Forum on improving internet usage held in Accra

Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei (middle) exchanging greetings with some of the participants at the forum.

Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei (middle) exchanging greetings with some of the participants at the forum.

A two-day forum on improving the use of internet to promote information flow in Ghana and other parts of Africa has been held in Accra.

Dubbed, “Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica)”, it was organised by Uganda-based organisation, Collaboration for International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), in partnership with Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).

The event offered the platform for various stakeholders from the internet governance and online rights space on the continent including Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, among others, and beyond to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for advancing privacy, access to information, free expression, non-discrimination and the free flow of information online on the continent.

Opening the forum last Thursday, Deputy Minister of Communications, Vincent Nii Odotei Sowah, said the rapidly expanding use of the internet and digital platforms in Africa had enhanced the rights of citizens to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.

The emergence of cyberspace, he explained, had enabled people of the continent to engage actively in public discourse on political issues, governance, social and economic development, among others, at local, national and international levels.

In line with this, the government, he said, was developing a solid and dependable ICT infrastructure by laying the Eastern Corridor Fiber Optic Backbone (ECFOB), which runs from Ho to Bawku through Yendi to Tamale, and was expected to cover 27 districts and towns.

Mr Sowah said the project was intended to extend the national backbone infrastructure to all districts in the country, provide national data centre facilities and connect all public institutions to a single shared communications, and computing infrastructure, in order to facilitate efficient delivery of government services to businesses and others.

The ECFOB Network, he said, would support efforts to improve the socio-economic benefits for the communities along its path by attracting new businesses, providing access to information for educational research, bridging the digital divide between the rural and urban dwellers, reducing rural to urban migration through job creation, and improved healthcare through telemedicine.

According to the Deputy Minister, the government would continue to set-up telecommunications and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities in all part of the country to connect towns and surrounding communities with ICT facilities for skills development and knowledge to support growth of businesses and the local economy.

Executive Director of the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, said the forum was necessary to deliberate on the state of internet in Africa and ways by which it could be used in furthering the development agenda of the continent as well as collectively work towards improving internet legislation and policies to ensure no one was left behind in the usage of cyberspace.

As a powerful tool for citizens’ participation and to demand for accountability and transparency in governance, he said it was imperative that all stakeholders find a common ground through brainstorming to legislate and improve its use.

By Claude Nyarko Adams

email
Print Friendly

Leave a Comment