Operators within the telecommunication and data industry have underscored the need for Ghana to safeguard its data space in order to leverage its predictability to spur economic growth.
This emerged at the Ghana Internet Conference 2021, headlined by the Ghana Internet Service Providers’ Association (GISPA) as part of efforts to highlight ways by which Ghana’s data space can be harnessed.
The event which assembles seasoned individuals in the telecommunications industry, is the third in succession, following the maiden edition organized in 2019.
This year’s conference hosted by the Academic City University College was on the theme; Ghana’s Data space: Localisation, Protection and Economisation.
In his address, the President of GISPA, Ing Richard Densu said the increase in the use of the internet for social interaction and business commerce has occasioned the need for a proper understanding of our data space and how to protect it against exploitation.
He added that on average every individual spends 2 hours, 20 minutes surfing the internet daily. The figure he says means in a day, millions of data is shared between people within the internet space. He stated that with the right infrastructure in place, Ghana can tap into its data space, first by ensuring it is well protected against external use then by maximizing its economic use.
Delivering his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer of Afrifanom, Nana Osei Kwasi-Afrifa said the value of data is essential to today’s world, adding that people who understand the power of mining data have made fortunes overnight as a result of this knowledge.
He stated that sadly for Ghana, the lack of trust in Ghanaian ICT firms to undertake ICT projects continues to militate against the growth and capacity development of our local industry.
“The biggest government contracts on tech development are seeded to foreign brands and sadly, of the 20 plus banks in Ghana, none is using a bank software system developed by a Ghanaian”, Nana Afrifa said.
He added that the advocacy from several local tech companies led the government to rethink its position on local competencies and owing to that, today several local companies are efficiently producing great results and have developed technological software for projects like the Ghana School Placement system, Mobile Money Interoperability, Ghana Card Registration and Ghana Post GPS.
He further called for more support for local technology industries, highlighting that “it is impossible to protect the data we generate if we do not have a stake in where and how it is stored”.
The keynote speaker recalled how the technology powerplay between China and the US led to the proscription of Hauwei from the google platform. He said the hindsight of this should serve as a foundational guide for the reconfiguration of our data protection policy to be locally sovereign. He concluded by saying, a lot must be done to reduce the cost of data hosting as it is a worrying situation for tech businesses.
Panellists, including Amerley Ampofo; Advocate – Data as a Force For Good, Ing. Alfred Gaise, Chief Manager for Regulatory – National Communication Authority, Ing Dr. Keneth Ashigbe; CEO – Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication and Dr Patrick Adonoo; Director of Regulatory and Compliance – Data Protection Commission shared their thoughts as well.
Dr. Ken Ashigbey argued that personal data is the most valuable data and needs to be protected.