Ministry of Communications Eager To Ensuring Efficient Connectivity For Ghanaians
The WSIS Forum 2021 serves as a key forum for discussing the role of ICTs as a means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, with regard to the global mechanism for follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNGA Resolution A/70/1).
In a speech read on behalf of the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digitization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, by the Chief Director, Mrs. Magdalene Apenteng, at the WSIS 2021 High-Level Interactive Policy Sessions at the Forum on Wednesday, 24th March 2021, with respect to measures Ghana has established to bridge the digital divide, she said, “Ensuring efficient connectivity for Ghanaians is the goal of my ministry as this is the only way the vision of H.E. The President can be achieved.
His Excellency believes that it is through the collective use of ICT that Ghana can position itself to benefit from the 4th Industrial Revolution. As a result, it is crucial that every Ghanaian, particularly, the unserved and underserved communities, have access to meaningful connectivity that is affordable and constant. This will facilitate access to information and knowledge which will enable the average Ghanaian to improve and promote their daily lives.
Subsequently, Ghana has launched national connectivity initiatives.
We are implementing the ICT4AD policy which is enhancing public and private investment in various modes of infrastructures to support Ghana’s Accelerated Development agenda. The main aim of the policy is to guide all sectors of the economy to develop.
Ghana has in place widespread fiber optic infrastructure and International bandwidth from 5 Submarine Optic Fibre cables. These are providing adequate bandwidth capacity to support our Digitalization agenda.
We have introduced a School Connectivity Project to facilitate access to the internet. This project makes information easily available to students and teachers to enhance learning. So far, 411 schools and more schools will be rolled onto the project.
We have Community ICT Centre (CIC) which serves as a community resource center to provide business services and community development information. The centers also function as information hubs for individuals and educational institutions.
The CICs are also used to train the youth especially the women in these communities to enable them to embrace technology and benefit from the many digital initiatives implemented by Government.
We are launching a Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion project, to provide connectivity to over a 3.4million citizens in rural communities. This intervention when completed will provide new areas for ICT growth and raise the level of ICT literacy in those communities. It will create the platform for the promotion and growth of local start-ups in these communities.”
In her answer to what initiatives Ghana has put in place to protect its cyberspace, “Online platforms must be safe for all. We are promoting and creating awareness on the safe use of the internet as part of the Cyber Security interventions in the country.
We must sustain the trust to use the internet and the encouragement to provide meaningful and educative content for all users. To ensure the protection of our cyberspace, we have introduced some initiatives.
To begin with, we have enacted the Cyber Security Law which will establish a Cyber Security Authority to regulate Cyber Security activities in the country and forsee to the general protection of citizens in cyberspace.
People’s utilization of ICT is generally impressive and speaks to the giant strides being made in bridging the global digital divide in Ghana. It is salient that awareness creation efforts are targeted at children and first-time users of the internet in order to insulate them from the threats posed by utilizing online platforms.
We have instituted a Cyber Security Awareness month to build the capacity of our citizens and institutions on cybersecurity issues to mitigate against some of the intended risks presented by the ICT ecosystem. In October of every year, we sensitize the public on the need to maintain our cyber hygiene to protect everyone.
In addition, we are also partnering with the international community by Ratifying both the Malabo and Budapest Conventions. This is because cybercrimes go beyond any country’s borders. These conventions provide international cooperation in the combat against cybercrimes.
Within Ghana, the implementation of emerging technologies and the roll-out of multiple state-level digitization projects such as National ID, National Digital Property Addressing System, Mobile Money Interoperability, and Paperless Ports as part of the Ghana Digital Agenda and Ghana Beyond Aid have resulted in the growing use of digital services.
The ability for all to access and contribute information, ideas, and knowledge are essential in an inclusive Information Society and the National Infrastructure Development Programme which aims to connect the unserved and underserved is accelerating technology adoption and enabling access to the information within Ghana.
However, the speed of digitization and the accelerated growth in amounts of data available enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain and Internet of Things and driven by cloud computing platforms has increased the aggregation of personal data from multiple sources for decision making based on individual behavior and preferences, with the potential invasion of privacy.
The Government of Ghana recognizes the socioeconomic benefits of an inclusive digital economy but also recognizes the significance of a framework that ensures the safeguarding of personal data.
The Government has therefore mandated the Data Protection Commission with the task of protecting the dignity and privacy of individuals whilst an inclusive digital environment where innovation and productivity thrive is being encouraged.”