NITA is the regulatory authority for information communication technology (ICT) and electronic transactions in Ghana but lacks the (Legislative Instrument) LI to provide legal framework to regulate the ICT sector effectively. This regulatory oversight is essential for promoting fair competition, maintaining quality standards and protecting the rights and interests of all stakeholders.
The LI also establishes guidelines and standards for ICT-related activities in Ghana and sets out rules of engagement, best practices and compliance requirements for entities operating in the ICT sector. This creates a level playing field and ensures that all participants adhere to the same set of rules, promoting transparency, accountability and professionalism.
In order to facilitate the development of a robust digital ecosystem in Ghana, The LI provides a clear roadmap for the growth and development of the ICT sector, encouraging innovation, investment and entrepreneurship.
The LI attracts local and foreign investments, fosters job creation, and contributes to the overall economic growth of the country by establishing a predictable and supportive regulatory environment.
Furthermore, the LI helps protect the interests of consumers and users of ICT services. It ensures that service providers deliver high-quality and reliable services, safeguarding consumers from fraudulent activities, privacy breaches, and cyber threats. The LI may also establish mechanisms for dispute resolution and consumer protection, enhancing trust and confidence in the digital marketplace.
A draft Legislative Instrument for the NITA Act, Act 771 and the electronic
Transactions Act, Act 772 will equip NITA to perform its proper role as the Regulator for all ICT related matters and electronic transactions in Ghana.
Act 771 defines the objective for the establishment of NITA as an agency to regulate the provision of information communication technology, ensure the provision of quality information communication technology, promote standards of efficiency and ensure high quality of service.
NITA was therefore expected to issue licenses to service providers and ensure fair competition among others, a roadmap which was set out as far back as 2008 per the Act that established NITA. Unfortunately, without properly understanding of their mandate, NITA never performed the role prescribed by its enabling Act fully but rather got engrossed in operations and became a service provider, competing in the same space as the entities it was mandated to regulate.
Without regulation, the nation embarked on digital initiatives with no direction and was held captive by service providers who did as they pleased with no regard for sustainability of initiatives, and interoperability of systems as ICT procurement for MDAs were done with no oversight and no set standards guiding it. This chaotic situation led to wanton dissipation of public resources as it encouraged duplication, waste and procurement of sometimes near end-of-life systems which were unfit for purpose.
So far, the World Bank e-Transform project has supported NITA to procure the services of a consultant to facilitate the drafting of key Legislative Instruments to give effect to both Act 771 and 772, 15 years after those laws were passed, to facilitate the performance of NITA’s regulatory functions.
Ghana’s digital economy and digital transformation cannot be developed in a vacuum and our participation in the 4th Industrial Revolution requires a fit for purpose ICT ecosystem, operating within a standardized framework with properly laid out rules of engagement and competition. This framework will be regularly reviewed with input from the industry.
Analogous agencies in Rwanda and Nigeria have a separate institution or partner managing the Government digital infrastructure such as fibre, data centres, etc. Ghana is in the process of setting up a similar structure which is best practice to ensure enforcement of policy and regulatory directives.
In our increasingly interconnected world, the significance of technology cannot be overemphasized. Government recognizes the transformational power and potential of ICT and has set ambitious goals of becoming an inclusive, progressive digital hub in our region, ensuring that no citizen is left behind. The draft LI’s will lay the foundation for a robust regulatory framework that nurtures innovation, safeguards the rights and interests of all stakeholders and addresses crucial domains such as digital infrastructure, applications, systems, innovation and e-commerce.
Working in collaboration with other relevant agencies such as data protection and cybersecurity for both the public and private sector will be enhanced as they all play essential roles in achieving these overarching objectives.
It is pertinent to acknowledge that legislation alone cannot bring about the desired transformation.
It is only through our collective efforts and close collaboration with all stakeholders that we can establish the right legal and regulatory framework to achieve the desired transformation.
The successful implementation and widespread adoption of these legislative instruments can only facilitate this process.
Overall, the draft LI for NITA plays a pivotal role in shaping Ghana’s ICT landscape. It establishes a regulatory framework, promotes fair competition, sets standards, protects consumers, stimulates innovation, attracts investments and contributes to the country’s digital transformation agenda. It provides the necessary legal and regulatory foundation to propel Ghana’s ICT sector towards sustainable growth and development.