The minister designate for Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, has declared his intention to make Ghana a technological hub with the establishment of a business promotions unit at the ministry to harness the expertise of various professionals. He said the unit, when established, would serve as a nerve centre for advice from a cross section of professionals on how the country could harness its technological potential in the effort to build a critical mass of people. Innovation and research Professor Frimpong-Boateng, who spelt out his vision when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday, responded to questions on a wide range of issues and said if approved as a minister he would superintend the establishment of innovation centres in all regions of the country to serve as dedicated places for children to use as learning centres to sharpen their skills. He regretted that only 0.25 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was spent on research and development, which he described as woefully inadequate and underscored the need to increase it to one per cent to help break the technology gap. Prof. Frimpong-Boateng also answered questions on how to preserve lands for research purposes and stated that if approved he would work to ensure that lands belonging to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission were safeguarded against encroachers. The former Chief Executive of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital talked about the importance of converting waste into energy and gave an assurance that he would promote waste recycling such as hard plastics to produce energy and also champion an e-waste crusade. Minister designate for Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah Minister designate for Transport Earlier, the Minister designate for Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, had said he would push for the complete automation of activities at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to eliminate the ‘goro boys’ menace. He stated that eliminating the canker would also involve law enforcement and constant education to sensitise vehicle owners to the need to desist from dealing with them. To make the acquisition of driver’s licence easier, Mr Asiamah said the automated system was the best way to go towards cleansing the system of illegal activities, including the acquisition of licences through dubious means. The nominee, who is also the Member of Parliament for Upper Denkyira West, touched on the importance of vehicle maintenance and road worthiness and proposed regular maintenance of vehicles to be done in partnership with the DVLA and the National Road Safety Commission. Minister designate for Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey Railways In a related development, the Minister designate for Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, stated that plans to revive the railway sector had taken off with the institution of a railway project to make rail transportation one of the attractive modes of transport in the country. Railway project He told the Appointments Committee of Parliament that the government was ready to receive proposals for investments and that the project had already been costed, ready for take-off. Mr Ghartey stated that for now the focus would be to concentrate on stand=alone sections of the railway project and mentioned Buipe-Paga and Buipe-Techiman as some of those sections. Mr Ghartey, who answered a wide range of questions from the committee, however, identified finance, stakeholders in the sector who dread competition and encroachers as some of the potential challenges. Inter-city rail The nominee, who is the MP for Essikado-Ketan, said for the railway system to be given the needed impetus, the government would equally explore the possibility of building an inter-city rail/light rail to facilitate the transportation of goods and services and added that a financing mechanism was in place to kick-start the rail project. While calling for support among the citizenry to make the project successful, Mr Ghartey expressed the view that instead of just paying one-off compensation to people ejected around railway lines, it was necessary to involve them in the development process to improve their livelihoods. He gave an assurance that if given the nod as minister, he would work with the various district assemblies and harness knowledge from railway experts for the development of the railway project. On how to ensure effective and efficient revenue mobilisation when the rail system took off, hey stated that the trains would be automated with the deployment of an IT infrastructure for transparent revenue mobilisation and an e-ticketing system.
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