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 due 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 her speech at the WSIS 2021 High-Level Interactive Policy Sessions at the Forum on Wednesday, 24th March, 2021, with respect to measures Ghana has instituted to bridge the digital divide, Hon. Minister of Communications and Digitization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, had this to say, “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 important that every Ghanaian, especially, 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 enhance their daily lives.
Subsequently, Ghana has rolled out national connectivity initiatives.
– We are implementing the ICT4AD policy which is promoting 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 wide spread fibre optic infrastructure and International bandwidth from 5 Submarine Optice 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 leaning. So far, 411 schools and more schools will be rolled onto the project.
We have Community ICT Centre (CIC) which serve as a community resource centre to provide business services and community development information. The centres also function as information hubs for individuals and educational institutions.
The CICs is also used to train the youth especially the women in these communities to enable them embrace technology and benefit from the many digital initiatives implemented by Government.
We are rolling out a Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion project, to provide connectivity to over 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 cyber space,
the Minister said, “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 useful and educative content for all users. To ensure the protection of our cyberspace, we have introduced some initiatives.
To start with, we have enacted the Cyber Security Law which will established a Cyber Security Authority to regulate Cyber Security activities in the country and forsee to the general protection of citizens in the cyber space.
People’s utilization of ICT are generally impressive and speak 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 cyber security issues to mitigate against some of the intended risks presented by the ICT ecosystem. In October of every year we sensitise the public on the need to maintain our cyber hygiene to protect everyone.
In addition, we are also collaborating with the international community by Ratifying both the Malabo and Budapest Conventions. This is because cybercrimes goes beyond any country’s borders. These conventions provide international cooperation in the fight 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 is 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 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 importance of a framework which ensures 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 thrives is being encouraged.”