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Govt builds capacity of NITA to international standard

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation speaking at the forum

The Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said rigorous work is underway to build the capacity of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) to ensure it provides international best practice regulatory services to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

She said the focus was for NITA not to be a profit-oriented or heavy-handed regulator, but one that enabled, promoted and ensured a vibrant and competitive ICT ecosystem with opportunities for businesses and citizens.

“As the sector grows, it comes with its associated risks and hazards that require proper management to prevent 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 standardised to withstand attacks,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said.

Forum

In her speech at the NITA ICT Stakeholder’s Forum 2022 in Accra last Wednesday, the minister said, “The ministry is mandated to lead and champion the government’s digital agenda through the implementation of digital initiatives to bring services closer to the people. The benefits of these initiatives to the citizens cannot be quantified.”

The forum was organised in collaboration with the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) on the theme: “Regulating ICT Businesses and Practitioners in Ghana: Opportunities and Challenges.”

It was for stakeholders to share ideas on how best they could regulate the sector, as well as discuss the regulatory activities NITA would be conducting.

She explained that the ICT sector required a strong regulator ensuring that businesses thrived and consumers received value for money on products, solutions and services rendered by the ICT industry.

“The ministry realised 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, while the operational aspect of its activities is handled by a technical partner,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said.

Regulation

The minister said NITA as a regulator would focus on the protection of consumer interest within the ecosystem and the monitoring compliance with contractual obligation to the government, users and other legal and regulatory requirements.

The regulator will also establish technical, safety and quality standards and monitor their compliance.

The regulation, she said, would cut across the ICT industry from service providers, practitioners, ICT infrastructure and its operations, e-Commerce, public sector ICT and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

Approach

In his speech on the topic “Digitalised Ghana - The Role of NITA”, the Director-General of NITA, Richard Okyere-Ofosu, said regulating the ICT sector was not going to be an easy task considering how broad and dynamic the sector was.

He said NITA’s approach would be to identify what he called specific regulatory verticals within the sector and develop specific regulations, guidelines and standards for each identified regulatory vertical.

He said the activities of service providers should be regulated to ensure that consumers within the sector were protected and the quality and standards of products and services offered met international standards.

That, he said, would make our sector and Ghana an attractive destination for investment.

He explained that as the sector grew and attracted more investments, the quality of the professionals within the sector was key to convince investors that the environment had the needed skills, experience and professionalism as they were used to in other jurisdictions.

He said, “Ghana now has about six commercial data centres and there are more in the pipeline. For the security, reliability, availability, affordability of data centre infrastructure services, the sector must be regulated to provide the much-needed infrastructure to support the growth of the sector.”