Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
Ekwow Spio-Garbrah is considered one of Africa’s most eloquent and erudite speakers on a wide range of subjects related to African development. He speaks and writes authoritatively on such subjects as governance and leadership, education, trade and industry, telecoms and ICT, agriculture, human capital formation, finance and banking, and natural resource development. A former Head of Communications and spokesman for the African Development Bank, Spio-Garbrah has also held positions as Ambassador of Ghana to the USA and Mexico (1994-97), Ghana’s Minister of Communications (1997-98), Minister of Education (1999-2021), Minister of Trade and Industry (2014-2017) and Minister responsible for Mines and Energy (1998). Earlier, Spio-Garbrah worked at the International Finance Corporation (within the World Bank Group) in Washington, DC (1988-91); for Southwestern Bell (now AT&T) in New Jersey (1985-88); and as the first African employee of Hill and Knowlton (H&K), in New York, then the world’s largest and leading public communications advisory firm (1979-85). At H&K, he was part of teams that advised the Governments of Indonesia, Austria, the Netherlands, Turkey; the HongKong Shanghai Banking Corporation (now HSBC), Credit Agricole and Rabobank Nederlands; and was an energy sector intelligence analyst to OPEC, the oil industry cartel.
Spio-Garbrah’s specialist knowledge of the information and communications technology industry was honed by his eight-year service as the first African CEO of the London-based, 100+ year-old Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), owned by the governments, telecom regulators and operators of the 54-nation English-speaking Commonwealth of Nations. Recently, he served as Chairman of the Brand Ghana Council, the Made-in-Ghana Committee (2014-2017), and the Ghana Free Zones Board (2014-2017). Earlier, he chaired the Board of Ghana's National Communications Authority (1997 –1998), and was the first Chairman of Ghana's VAT Service Board (1998—2000). He served from September 2007—October 2010 on the Boards of Telkom South Africa and Vodacom South Africa. He also served on the Board of Anglogold Ashanti from 2010—2017. He is Chairman of the U.K.-based African Cancer Organisation and the African Business Centre for Developing Education. He has served as President of Dominion University College and CEO of Action Chapel International. He farms pineapples, mangoes and cashews.
Spio-Garbrah holds a BA (Hons), English, from the University of Ghana; a Graduate Certificate in International Banking from the New York University; a Graduate Diploma in Journalism and Communications; an M.A in International Affairs from Ohio University; and was awarded an LLD (Honoris Causa) by Middlebury University, USA in June 2001.
Title: Critical Success Factors for Viable e-Infrastructure and e-Service Development in Africa
Most Africa countries have experienced significant economic growth in the last decade partly on the back of an expansion in ICT infrastructure and the explosive availability of e-services. From satellite communications to fibre-optic submarine cables and terrestrial networks, and from mobile networks, the Internet and cloud computing to radio and TV access technology, African governments and the private sector have made important investments in e-infrastructure over the past two decades. These investments have been justified and been facilitated by the rapid uptake by African populations of numerous e-services enabled by the pervasiveness of e-applications. Mobile money, social media, live streaming, converged 4G/LTE quad-play deals, text and video messaging, crowd sourcing and group chats on WhatsApp and Facebook, are among the numerous and growing uses of cutting-edge ICTs in Africa.
As African countries continue to seek creative and innovative ways to utilize e-infrastructure and e-services in accelerating their development, it is increasingly clearer that greater attention needs to be paid to the right policies (P), pro-active regulations (R), creative financing (F), innovation (I) and technologies (T) ---PROFIT—that will enable African countries to compete more effectively globally.
Governments will need to work more conscientiously with e-regulators, the private sector, technology providers academia and researchers, innovation incubators, financial institutions, telecom, youthful entrepreneurs and other e-sector operators, to unlock the fullest potentials of ICTs, and to adapt them to Africa’s needs.
Africa can succeed and will prevail, but it can do so better and faster with more effective and efficient use of e-infrastructure and e-services.