Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde is advocating for a more sustainable way in supporting free education in Ghana.
Madam Lagarde was speaking at the “Future of Work in sub-Saharan Africa Conference” in Accra as part of a two-day working visit to Ghana.
She said, “Despite successes in primary education, sub-Saharan Africa lags behind in secondary education. The share of children in the region who attend secondary school is just 30 per cent, the lowest in the world. And simply increasing enrollment is unlikely to be enough.
“We need to promote digital literacy and identify the skills that will allow the next generation to work with and take advantage of technology rather than be replaced by it.”
Madam Lagarde added that “One example comes from right here in Ghana. The government recently introduced the ambitious free Senior High School program. This program can play a pivotal role in improving educational outcomes if implemented in a sustainable way.”
According to Madam Lagarde, knowledge and information are the new resources of the future. Digital access fosters innovation in all sectors of the economy.
She said, Africa has made progress bypassing landlines and leapfrogging directly to mobile phones. At the same time, only 20 per cent of the population has internet access, less than half the world average. Broadband services often remain prohibitively expensive.
Traditional infrastructure remains essential to connect the farm and factory gates with global trade routes. But digital infrastructure is just as essential for the traditional sectors and even more so for the new opportunities created in the digital economy.
“We know there is a critical financing need to develop physical, digital, and social infrastructure. Our research has shown that there is potential to raise 3 to 5 per cent of GDP in domestic revenues by improving the efficiency of the tax system and through institutional reforms.
The IMF can help to achieve this potential through technical assistance, including by helping governments leveraging technology,” she added.
“We are already starting. Recently we hosted hackathons in Senegal, Uganda, and Côte d’Ivoire. These creative brainstorming sessions which brought together programmers and other experts produced fascinating ideas on how to use technology to boost tax collection and improve efficiency.”
The one-day conference is an opportunity for the Managing Director to engage with thought-leaders and influencers from sub-Saharan Africa on the future of work.
Her visit comes ahead of Ghana’s exit from the three year International Monetary Fund programme which was extended for another.
Christine Lagarde will depart Accra on Tuesday to Johannesburg for the continuation of her four-nation tour of Africa.
The International Monetary Fund in 2017 approved a three year extended programme worth $918 million to help revive Ghana’s economy.