Ghana’s Internet penetration on the African continent is no longer competitive, Dr Nii Narku Quaynor, Chairman of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) said citing the UN Secretary General’s Multi Stakeholder Advisory Group on Internet Governance Forum (UN IGF MAG).
He explained that the country lost the competitive urge because of past policy positions away from Internet to telecommunication leading to the closure of many Internet Service Providers in the country at the time.
“We would imagine that that having to deal with convergence now amidst these policy misalignments is a real challenge,” Dr Nii Quaynor said on Wednesday when the Vice President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama launched the national ICT Policy Review Forum in Accra under the theme: “ICT – Towards Employment Creation”.
Dr Nii Quaynor, who is also a member of the MAG, said as the world prepares for the next Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Kenya in September, it was worthwhile to witness an attempt at a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance locally.
Principal themes of the global IGF include diversity, openness, security, privacy and critical internet resources.
On the national ICT policy review process, Dr Nii Quaynor said NITA was looking at a bottom up policy development process that would engage the larger industry in developing the detail technical policies typically associated with IT standards and practices, which would inform a broader policy process on ICT.
“Given a rather fast changing IT industry, policies would need to be reviewed more frequently than perhaps in other sectors,” he said and noted that in some cases, ICT policies had become outdated with the most often cited example in broadband access being those associated with VOIP polices and regulations.
He said it would be important for the Forum on broadband access policies to be pragmatic and to determine what access capacity the country has from all operators in order to regulate it properly for the benefit all.
The Vice President in a statement presented at the launch of the ICT Policy Review Forum by Mr Tony Aidoo, stressed the need to place the citizenry at the centre of the formulation of the new policy.
Vice President Mahama said it was also important that the new policy addressed the issue of youth employment and job creation, saying “It’s only in ICT that the youth are considered as not leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today.”
Touching on some of the thematic areas for the review process, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Ghana’s Communication Minister, said having made significant strides in expanding telephony subscription to over 17,million (75 percent tele-density), Ghana should now be focusing on Broadband penetration to ensure efficient Internet service.
He said for developing countries, broadband is a key driver for the economy citing a World Bank study that had revealed that a boost of 1.38 percentage points to GDP growth for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration. “The future of the world will be built on broadband,” he said.
Other areas the review would consider are Cyber Security Policy; ICTs, Climate Change and Environment Policy and Geo-Information Policy.
The National Task Force for the review of the ICT For Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy is headed by Professor Clement Dzidonu, President.