Ghana’s DQL Exposes Gov’t “Commitment” to Digitization: Ranked 79% Scantily

It’s time for Ghana to rekindle its digital spirit and surge ahead. In an age where the world is increasingly becoming interconnected through technology, Digital Quality of Life (DQL) is emerging as a critical benchmark for assessing a nation’s progress.

Ghana’s Digital Quality of Life does not match its economic progress. According to the 2023 DQL Index by Surfshark, a cybersecurity company, Ghana ranks 96th out of 121 countries in terms of its digital well-being, representing 79% poorly. This is a drop of eight places from last year when Ghana ranked 88th.  DQL Index measures five core pillars of digital quality of life: internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government. This alarming drop should serve as a wake-up call for the nation.

Internet E-Infrastructure: 108th Ranked

Ghana faces challenges in all five pillars, but especially in e-infrastructure and internet affordability. Ghana ranks 108th in e-infrastructure, which assesses the availability and quality of digital public services, such as health, education, and transportation. Ghana’s e-infrastructure score is 31% lower than the global average. This means that many Ghanaians lack access to essential online services that can improve their health, education, and mobility.

Internet Affordability: 103th Ranked

Ghana also ranks 103rd in internet affordability, which measures how much time an average person has to work to afford internet access. Ghana’s internet affordability score is 40% lower than the global average. Ghanaians have to work 15 hours and 18 minutes a month to afford fixed broadband internet and 2 hours and 39 minutes a month to afford mobile internet. This is much higher than the world’s most affordable countries, such as Romania and Luxembourg, where people only have to work 18 minutes and 16 minutes a month respectively to afford fixed and mobile internet.

Internet Quality: 15% Ranked

Ghana’s low internet affordability is partly due to its low internet quality. Ghana ranks 86th in internet quality, which evaluates the speed and stability of both fixed and mobile internet connections. Ghana’s internet quality score is 15% lower than the global average. Fixed internet averages 58 Mbps in Ghana, while mobile internet averages 15 Mbps. These speeds are far below the world’s fastest countries, such as Singapore and the UAE, where fixed and mobile internet speeds are over 300 Mbps.

E-Security: 83rd Ranked

Ghana performs better in e-security and e-government but is still below the global average. Ghana ranks 83rd in e-security, which measures how well a country is prepared to counter cybercrime and how advanced its data protection laws are. Ghana’s e-security score is 9% lower than the global average. Ghana has some data protection laws in place, such as the Data Protection Act of 2012, but they are not fully enforced or updated. Ghana also faces cyber threats from hackers, scammers, and fraudsters who target individuals and businesses online.

E-Government: 89th Ranked

Ghana ranks 89th in e-government, which examines how transparent, accessible, and user-friendly a country’s online public services are. Ghana’s e-government score is 14% lower than the global average. Ghana has made some efforts to digitize its public services, such as launching the Ghana.gov portal in July 2021 to provide a single platform for citizens to access various government services online. However, Ghana still lags behind in terms of online participation, open data, and digital inclusion.

The Importance of Digital Quality of Life

Digital quality of life, as measured by Surshark, encompasses various aspects of a nation’s digital landscape, such as internet access, affordability, speed, and digital literacy. In today’s world, these factors are no longer just conveniences but essential tools for economic growth, education, healthcare, and social progress. A high digital quality of life signifies a nation’s readiness to compete in the global digital economy.

The Slip in Rankings: A Cause for Concern

Ghana’s recent fall from 88th to 96th in the digital quality of life rankings should not be taken lightly. It raises questions about the country’s digital policies, infrastructure, and readiness for the digital future. While Ghana has shown significant progress in recent years with initiatives like the “Digital Ghana” agenda, this downward trend sends a stark message.

The Digital Divide: Addressing

One of the key factors contributing to Ghana’s slide in the rankings is the existing digital divide. Rural areas often lack access to reliable internet services, leaving large segments of the population digitally excluded. To improve its ranking, Ghana must invest in expanding digital infrastructure to underserved regions and communities.

Digital Literacy: Empowering the Nation

Digital literacy plays a pivotal role in a country’s digital quality of life. To regain its digital footing, Ghana must invest in comprehensive digital education programs, ensuring that citizens of all ages have the skills needed to thrive in the digital age. This will not only improve the nation’s digital quality of life but also enhance its global competitiveness.

Affordability and Accessibility: Making Digital Services Accessible to All

Affordability is a significant concern in Ghana’s digital landscape. High data costs and device prices limit access for many. The government, in collaboration with private sector partners, should work to make digital services more affordable and accessible to all Ghanaians.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Nurturing Digital Ecosystems

The digital economy offers vast opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. Ghana must foster a conducive environment for startups and tech companies to thrive. Encouraging homegrown innovations can be a game-changer in improving the nation’s digital quality of life.

Government Commitment: The Key to a Digital Resurgence

Ultimately, Ghana’s digital quality of life can only improve with strong commitment from the government. Policies, regulations, and investments in digital infrastructure and education must be prioritized. Collaboration with private sector partners and international organizations can also help accelerate progress.

A Call to Action

Ghana’s slip in the Surshark rankings should serve as a rallying cry for change. It’s time for the nation to recommit to its digital future. By addressing the digital divide, enhancing digital literacy, improving affordability, nurturing innovation, and demonstrating unwavering government commitment, Ghana can reverse its slide and ascend to a higher rank in digital quality of life. Let this setback be the catalyst for a digital resurgence: a Ghana that not only competes but excels in the global digital arena.

The DQL Index shows that Ghana has a lot of room for improvement in its digital quality of life. Improving its digital quality of life can bring many benefits to Ghana and its people. It can enhance social and economic opportunities, increase their access to information and education, improve their health and wellbeing, and strengthen their democracy and human rights. To achieve this, Ghana needs to invest more in its digital infrastructure, reduce the cost of internet access, improve its internet speed and stability, strengthen its cyber security and data protection laws, and expand its online public services. By doing so, Ghana can catch up with the global digital standards and become a more prosperous and inclusive nation.

The author of this piece is Maxwell Mensah, a writer, researcher, and social commentator. You can reach him on mensahm1815@gmail.com

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