Ghana requires strategic interventions and innovative policies to scale up its current 40 per cent internet penetration in order to make it more accessible and affordable to the ordinary Ghanaian.
“So clearly 40 per cent internet penetration is nothing to write home about, because now the world is moving towards data and voice calls will in the next three to four years become like an added value service, therefore, the core platform that mobile network operators will be selling is data,” Mr George Nenyi Andah, a Deputy Minister of Communications, said at a news briefing on Tuesday in Accra, to update the public on the upcoming Freedom Online Conference (FOC).
The two-day conference is slated for Thursday, February 6th to Friday, February 7th under the theme; ”Achieving a Common Vision for Internet Freedom”, which will attract 200 delegates from 40 countries, including Ambassadors and government representatives from member-nations of the Freedom Online Coalition.
This year’s Conference aimed at creating awareness on the need to protect the fundamental human rights of individuals and ensuring the freedom of the citizenry on the use of the Internet.
The event is under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and will come off at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
It was in that light, Mr Andah said successive governments over the years, instituted various measures to enhance internet accessibility through policy formulation, investment in cyber security infrastructure and skill set in order for the nation to address the challenges with internet accessibility.
However, he said, more efforts was required to scale up the internet connectivity across the country, in order to drive the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda and accelerate national development.
“We have invested heavily in fibre infrastructure development and working closely with the telecos to extend internet connectivity. As far as policy framework is concerned, we’re giving enough space to sanitise the internet space and that’s why we went to Parliament for an increase in the Communication Services Tax (CST) to support the activities of the Cyber Security Authority,” Mr Andah explained.
The Deputy Minister said in view of the many fibre cables being connected to the country, government should be able to negotiate for affordable internet rate with the telecos in the near future.
Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, the National Cyber Security Advisor, giving details about the conference, said Ghana chairs the 31-member Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) including countries like Argentina, Costa Rica, Canada, France, Kenya, Ireland and United Kingdom that had instituted legislations and policies to protect the fundamental rights of their citizens on the use of the Internet.
Therefore, the conference would provide a platform for member countries of FOC to deliberate on issues emanating from the use of the Internet and share ideas towards addressing them.
They would also engage with civil society organizations and non-member countries as well as strengthen the bond of friendship that exited among members of the Coalition, with the view of addressing cyber security issues across the globe.
Some of the topics penciled down for discussion included; Digital Inclusion, Safeguarding Children’s Rights in West Africa, Child Online Protection, Online Misinformation and Digital Safety of Human Rights Defenders.