Business magnates 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 was revealed 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 has always made waves for assembling seasoned individuals in cyberspace, 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 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 maximize its economic use.
Delivering his keynote address, the CEO 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 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”.
He concluded 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. Ken Ashigbey; 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.
He believes Ghana’s subscription to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) presents an opportunity for data not only to be protected and localized but also how it should be maximized to penetrate multinational businesses.
Amerley Ampofo added that harnessing digital information for economic growth is also important to the conversation on privacy. She believes there is a lot of offline data activity going on even without the use of the internet, stressing that it is time for the country to start investing in digital platforms to ensure that our data records are localized and protected in order for us to think of how we can economise it.
“We all saw the panic that engulfed the country when WhatsApp shut down for some few hours. That should be a concern to be worried about. Hence, we must begin to patronize social apps developed by our own Tech enthusiasts and break the monopoly enjoined by the social platforms like Whatsapp and Twitter, that are foreign own”.
Ing. Alfred Gaise observed that there are not enough regulations to give security to how our data space is protected.
“As we ensure our data is protected, we need to look at the details in our laws that can be revised to ensure that there is sufficient regulation to ensure privacy,” Mr Gaise said.
Dr. Patrick Adonoo said if the country wishes to forecast its technological development to that of the Asian tigers of the world, it must first see data protection and localization as an integral step towards this vision rather than a passive one.
Participants were admonished to prioritize the need to safeguard their personal data, rather than leave it only in the hands of the government and its allied agencies. The conference also advised against the use of software that has the implication of prowling on the personal data of people and compromising their personal security.
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