The government is committed to ensuring that the older population in the country is not left out of the ongoing digitisation agenda, a Deputy Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ama Pomaa Boateng, has said.
With the population of the older generation increasing across the world, she said it was important to ensure that this segment of the population who were usually tagged as not technology savvy were not left behind in the digitalisation agenda.
The deputy minister was speaking at an event organised by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to mark the 2022 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The event was held under the theme ‘digital technologies for older persons and healthy ageing.
The United Nations (UN) World Population Ageing Report (2019) indicated that there were 703 million people aged 65 years and above in 2021, with this figure projected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2050.
In Ghana, the 2021 National Population and Housing Census estimates that 4.3 per cent of the country’s population was 65 years and above, representing an increase of 0.51 per cent over the 2010 figure.
The deputy minister said these changing dynamics called for a shift of focus to the aged population with regard to expanding digital inclusiveness.
“Most often, in our aim to bridge the digital divide, our minds are focused on the urban and rural settings, but this year our attention has been drawn to the fact that it is important to factor in the older populace in this agenda.
“The population of older adults are increasing in all regions of the world. Every country in the world is experiencing growth in both the size and proportion of older persons in the population and this requires that we factor them in our digitalisation agenda,” she said.
Ms Boateng pointed out that statistics available indicated that the older generation in Ghana was adopting the use of technology at a fast rate.
“In 2021, we had an average of seven per cent of people aged 65 and above in Ghana using the search engines Google, YouTube, Facebook, Betway, Wikipedia, among others. The statistics indicate that our older generation require ICT solutions to learn, keep in touch socially, for health reasons, financial issues and stay in touch, “she said.
The Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Joe Anokye, for his part, called for the need to innovate and improve upon existing technologies to support the increasing aging population in the country.
He said the rising aging population required a critical look at the digital technologies for older persons to ensure healthy aging.
He noted that the government through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation had anchored digitalisation as a key policy objective and initiated several programmes within the different sectors, tailored to bridge the digital divide.
Getting everyone connected
The Secretary General of the ITU, Houlin Zhao, in a message to mark the celebrations, said close to three billion people were still not connected to the internet, with majority of them living in developing countries.
He said the equitable access to digital technologies was not just a moral responsibility but also essential for global prosperity and sustainability.