COVID-19 has accelerated digitalization in Africa-Ofori-Atta

Accra, Nov.17, GNA - The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the acceleration of the digitalization of Africa, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, has said.

Presenting the 2022 fiscal budget on the floor of Parliament in Accra on Wednesday, he stated that data from the Bank of Ghana confirmed a growing trend in online trade.

He said the data showed that between February 2020 and February 2021 alone, Ghana saw an increase of over 120 per cent in the value of digital transactions compared to 44 per cent for the period February 2019 – February 2020.

“Apart from the convenience online trading offers, the surge, as happened globally, was primarily due to the increase in the use of digital platforms as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic, which swept through the world, upended, and exposed, the weaknesses in some of the critical structures and systems in education, health, economic life, communities and everyday family life.

Mr Ofori-Atta, observed that the pandemic triggered a sharp and heavy slump in global supply chains as the lockdowns and restrictions led to reductions in demand and production levels

He said exactly 1 year, 8 months and 5 days today, Ghana confirmed its first case of COVID-19 and since then, efforts to contain the virus and its impact on lives had dominated the actions of the government.

The Finance Minister said the hardship Ghanaians had experienced due to COVID was not lost on the Government, adding;

“We have been there with the people, playing the difficult but necessary balancing act of managing an economy put under extreme distress by the pandemic and, at the same time, supporting households and businesses to cope,”.

Mr Ofori-Atta said government’s response to COVID 19 pandemic had earned domestic and worldwide commendations.

“We empathize with families who lost loved ones during the pandemic, private school teachers who lost income for 12 months, business owners who lost earnings, the thousands of hospitality and tourism sector workers who were laid off,”

The government also empathized with the slump in businesses built around traditional and other social events, the jobless young people whose strenuous efforts to find work had been further compromised by the pandemic; and the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of people.