The National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in collaboration with the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH), has organized the NITA ICT Stakeholders’ Forum under the theme: “Regulating ICT Businesses and Practitioners in Ghana: Opportunities and Challenges.”
The NITA ICT Stakeholders’ Forum was aimed at bringing Information Technology (IT) managers under one umbrella to brainstorm and share best practices in the regulation of IT professionals and businesses in the country.
The stakeholders were also sensitized on the benefits of NITA’s registration process and mitigate challenges and that may be faced during the process.
Minister of Communications and Digitalisation (MOCD), Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful, speaking at the event noted that the ICT sector is playing a major role in the socioeconomic development of the country.
Stressing that, since the adoption and implementation of the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) policy in 2003 serving as a framework to guide all sectors of the economy, Ghana has witnessed the impact of ICTs in health, education, agriculture, tourism, finance, information, communication, security, and general service delivery.
According to her, in 2008, Government being forward-looking, enacted the National Information Technology Agency Act, (Act, 771) to establish NITA to regulate the ICT sector.
This was to ensure that the ecosystem was governed by globally acceptable standards and professionals with the requisite certification and capacity to man the ICT systems deployed within the public and private sector institutions.
“In 2017, the Ministry was mandated to lead and champion the Government’s Digital Agenda through the implementation of digital initiatives to bring services closer to the people.
We can all attest to the embossment of digital addresses at our houses and business, the implementation of an interoperability platform that has enabled the digital financing sector and roped in more banks using the mobile money platform, the issuance of Ghana card and its integration with SSNIT, Bank Accounts, SIMs, and other critical services where verification and authentication are required, the Ghana.Gov platform for access and payment of public services, and others.
The private sector I must say has also stepped up to the plate and effectively matched these developments with innovation and technology in their service delivery as well and all these are fast-tracking our development,” she explained.
The ICT sector, therefore, requires a strong regulator to ensure that businesses thrive and consumers receive value for money on products, solutions, and services rendered by the ICT industry.
According to the Sector, the Ministry realized there was a gap in the implementation of NITA’s regulatory mandate, and directed the leadership of NITA to refocus its attention on its core mandate of regulating the ICT space whilst the operational aspect of its activities is handled by a technical partner.
Additionally, the Ministry is putting in place measures to build NITA’s capacity and provide them with the needed resources and executive support to ensure it provides the much-needed cutting-edge and international best practice regulatory services to the sector.
“The focus is for NITA not to be a profit-oriented or heavy-handed regulator but one that enables, promotes, and ensures a vibrant and competitive ICT ecosystem with opportunities for businesses and citizens.
NITA as a regulator will focus on:
- Protection of consumer interest within the ecosystem
- Monitoring compliance with contractual obligation to the government, users, and other legal and regulatory requirement
- Establishing technical, safety, and quality standards and monitoring their compliance
The regulation will cut across the ICT industry from service providers, practitioners, ICT infrastructure and its operations, eCommerce, public sector ICT, and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).
This means NITA will be working on accreditation of service providers and practitioners alike and they will be doing this in close collaboration with agencies like the Cyber Security Authority, Data Protection Commission, National Communications Authority, and other government regulators,” she highlighted.
Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful also hinted that they will build regulatory systems and platforms to make regulations more efficient, transparent, and practical and as much as possible, eliminate multiple regulatory burdens on businesses and practitioners.
As the sector grows, it comes with its associated risk and hazards that require proper management to prevent the loss of resources for citizens, businesses, and the economy at large.
It is therefore imperative that the Government partners with the private sector to ensure that systems are standardized to withstand attacks.
“Act 771 requires that all ICT service providers and practitioners register with NITA and must be in good standing to qualify to do business.
There will be a database of such businesses and practitioners who are in good standing with the regulator.
This database will be made available to businesses online to confirm ICT service providers and practitioners who are in good standing in order to reduce occupational risk to businesses. Those who fail to register will be sanctioned,” she emphasized.
In a speech read for the Director-General of NITA, Richard Okyere-Fosu disclosed that Ghana’s ICT sector is currently estimated at US$1 billion and may reach US$5 billion by 2030.
Stressing that both government and the private sector continue to make a significant investment in the industry; hence the government has adopted to digitalize the economy.
Explaining that, NITA was also established and clothed with two Acts (Act 771 and Act 772) to regulate the provision of ICT, ensure the provision of ICT, promote standards, and ensure high quality of service.
NITA is currently working with a different consultants and partners (such as Smart Africa, GIZ, World Bank Sponsored eTransform Project) under different projects in the development of the regulations for the above-mentioned verticals.
At different stages of the development of specific regulations, we will engage the needed stakeholders within the sector to get their input.
This will improve the acceptability and adherence when these regulations are rolled out. We will therefore entreat members of the community to stay in touch and be informed accordingly.
“For NITA, collaborative regulation is our approach to regulating the ICT industry. Collaboration within government (other regulators), with the industry, academia, developing partners, and the international community.
We hope our effort to regulate the ICT sector will enable more opportunities, promote fair play, promote quality and standards, and help grow the sector for the benefit of all stakeholders”.
From 2023, he said NITA would have specific engagements even outside of the ICT sector. ICT cuts across all sectors of the economy and every sector is now employing ICT to deliver its services,” he stated.
Mrs Juliana Ametorwogo, Women’s Lead for Institute of IT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH), revealed in an interview that, the institute, which was founded five years ago, focuses on training and certifying ICT professionals and students, among other things.
According to her, so far IIPGH has trained over 10,000 professionals and students in web development, data science, cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoTs), artificial intelligence, data protection, among others within five years.
More so, IIPGH also provides opportunities through networking and educating the public on the ICT sector.
Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh