The Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) has held its maiden edition of the Ghana Internet Conference in Accra. GISPA is the umbrella body of all internet services providers in Ghana.
The event was held under the theme: “Global internet development lessons for local ISPs for business growth and affordable internet provision,” and it would be held annually. It featured a panel discussion with key stakeholders in the internet space in Ghana making valuable contributions to improve the sector.
.Mr Richard Densu, the President of GISPA, speaking at the event, said the world has become much more visible and colorful to everyone because of the internet.
He said “the internet of today is giving an unprecedented opportunity to everyone of all ages to choose what they want, socialise and promote businesses”.
He said despite the numerous advantages associated with the internet, it comes with some challenges including the issues of cyber threats, personal security and safety of governments.
“That is why it is important that we as industry players lead the way in creating platforms such as this (conference), so that we can all come around the table to discuss how we can make the services we provide better for our customers,” he said.
Mr Densu said GISPA would in the coming months, facilitate these meetings on regular basis. “Our mandate, among others, include the involvement in shaping public policy and advocacy in ensuring that we are able to influence policies that are made to regulate the internet industry,” he said.
Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, a leading personality in the development of internet in Ghana, urged the government to scrap taxes on internet.
Prof. Quaynor, a founding member of the Computer Science Department at the University of Cape Coast, said the “internet, is just like water or air, you should not be taxing those things because if you do it would affect your development”.
He said the imposition of taxes will deepen the digital divide, just as the lack of infrastructure has deepened the digital divide.
He, however, agreed with the government’s move to ensure that for security reasons, all SIM cards are properly registered. Prof Quaynor urged government to sit with the operators to come up with a gradual approach to the issue.
Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, said one of the biggest challenges being faced by telecommunication companies in the country was fibre cuts. He said “we are currently spending too much money in fixing fibre cuts. We are recording over 300 fibre cuts a month. Last year it cost 45.5 million dollars to fix them.”
Mr Ashigbey said “this year we are almost above that already. One of our members who has budgeted half a million dollars, not to expand fibre to a village like Tsiame, but to fix it. After the very first quarter, they had to go back to their board for extra money. Mr Alfred Gaisie of the National Communication Authority (NCA) said a key factor in the high data cost was the nature of the content being consumed by internet users in the country.