With the world fast moving to data-driven communications, a world-class IT consultant and Director at Oracle UK-Ghana, Mr Franklin Asare, has made a strong case for the expansion of voice signal coverage to remote areas in the country, saying it is a key pillar for the development of the economy.
Contributing to a discussion on the opportunities in the technology space on Springboard, your virtual university, a radio talk programme on Joy FM, the renowned ICT expert said all developed societies required the ability to communicate, so the desire to extend voice signals to remote communities was critical.
“You can’t exclude people in a digital era by depriving them of communication instruments if you want to create opportunities for economic engagement. Voice also brings other capabilities like messages and data.
Putting in the right framework to reach the masses at the right price point is essential,” he said.
Mr Asare made the remarks in response to the government’s proposal in the 2019 budget to deploy 600 telephony sites to provide voice signals to 1,800 communities with limited or non-existent connections.
National data framework
However, Mr Asare encouraged the government to develop a national data framework that captured and structured relevant data.
“We need to have a national data framework that captures and structures relevant data.
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We need to set up integrations to allow existing data points such as Facebook and the National Identification Database to be included,” he said.
He explained that in the UK, there was a platform that allowed different government agencies to cross-communicate.
“The government needs to take a keener interest in data because it is able to monetise that data to promote private innovation,” he said.
The co-founder of DreamOval Limited, Mr Derrydean Dadzie, who was also a panellist on the show, said there was a need to form a data journey to enable the right kind of digital engagement in the country.
He said, for instance, when a child was born, the data framework should enable the hospital to send data to the Births and Deaths Registry to indicate the birth of the child.
“Subsequently, the child goes to get immunised, and the data record gets updated and follows the child for life.
With data, critical points in a person’s life (e.g. acquiring a passport, acquiring a national ID, starting school etc.) can be prepared for and the requisite resources provided,” he said.
Ensuring online security
On ensuring data security which has become essential in the digital age, Mr Asare said one key step was changing passwords every six weeks.
“Android phones can be susceptible to hacks, and we can often give out sensitive information that helps to identify ourselves online.
We need to secure online transactions by using cards with low limits to avoid exposure,” he said.
Mr Dadzie, however, observed that people gave out sensitive information such as passwords during relationships, which was a practice that needed to be avoided.
“Social engineering allows people to predict behaviour using the data we provide on social media.
This information can then be used to target advertisements etc. to unwitting users,” he said.
He explained that from an educational point of view, the youth need to be introduced to technology from a tender age.
“There is a lot of well-curated content on technology available online for free,” he said.
He explained that beyond technology, the youth needed to develop problem-solving skills and creative thinking skills.
“Parents with digital skills should volunteer at schools to pass on their knowledge of digital tools to the next generation,” he said.
Shedding more light on the implication of privacy breaches in developing public technology, Mr Asare said people should be concerned for their privacy online as it was very important.
But in order to mitigate risk, he said proper training on data platforms must be intensified.
“Young people need to get into database security in their curriculum.
They also need to learn about one or more emerging technologies such as blockchain, machine learning etc.
To prepare them for the future job market,” he said.