BY YESMAN ANTOH, NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS- THE MINISTER of Communications, Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful has stated that the current outstanding debt owed by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) amounts to Gh13m and it is one of the major reasons why the agency cannot perform as it is supposed to do.
The communications minister was of the view that NITA will provide improved services to Ghanaians especially its clients if they are paying the services National Information Technology Agency renders to them, suggesting that the MMDAs must make provision for payment for it in their budgets, just as they provide for other utilities.
“Data is as much a utility as water and electricity. No self-respecting organization can function effectively in the modern workplace without access to the internet. Most of you pay promptly for the services you procure from private internet service providers. Do same for National Information Technology Agency”, she urged.
Speaking at the IT stakeholders’ forum organized by NITA, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful emphasized that the launch of the Industry Forum underlines the determination of the Government to digitalize all sectors of the economy for economic development and growth.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful explained that the NITA, established by law in 2008, is in in the process of fulfilling its role as the regulator of all electronic transactions in the country and the provider of all ICT services to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Ghana.
The minister said, ten (10) years after the passage of the National Information Technology Act (Act 771) and the Electronic Transactions Act, (Act 772), no regulations have been passed to give effect to them as a result, they are currently drafting the necessary regulations to give effect to these laws in view of the increase in digitalization of government services in Ghana and all the necessary stakeholders will be given the chance to make inputs and suggestions at a later date.
She further stated that, until now, NITA has concentrated on the deployment and management of governments IT infrastructure, which it has found challenging largely because there is general assumption among the clients of NITA that they are not required to pay for the use of internet services provided by NITA but turn to complain loudly when the service goes down.
“We are in the process of upscaling the use of technology within government and building a seamless, protected e-government infrastructure to promote greater efficiency within the public sector and enhance its delivery of services and output to citizens. We will not be doing business as usual”, she said.
The minister opined that she has no doubt that NITA cannot deliver on its mandate when given the requisite support because it is a necessary and important institution in the digitalization agenda of government and has a clearly defined role for the future, adding the Ministry of Communications is currently working with the Board to restructure and strengthen the agency.
Mrs.. Owusu Ekuful hinted that an IT systems Audit will also be conducted shortly to enable NITA to ascertain the IT resources they have across government and the state in which it is to make the appropriate recommendations for upgrades, replacement or for better usage.
On his part, the Acting Director General of NITA, Mr. David Gyewu explained the rationale behind the forum, saying, the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008, Act 772 section 88 says, there is hereby established an Industry Forum which shall be a platform to bring the industry together from time to time to discuss matters of common interest that relate to the industry.
Mr. Gyewu said the Agency may designate an industry body to be the Forum by notifying, however, until the Agency designates a body, the Agency has the obligation to facilitate the meeting of the industry to perform the functions of the forum.
He said lack of sustainable funding and legacy debts are the huge problem the Agency was facing when he took over as Ag Director General of the Agency but he was not perturbed because when there is a will, there is a way.
The Ag. Director outlined some of the operations of the agency in the area of infrastructure (network O&M and DC partnership, GovNet connectivity project, Cyber Security & SOC/CERT), services revamp (eGov Online Portal, GEPP, Smart workplace- messaging, collaboration & document Management, G-Cloud) , Human & technology resources, Skills and training.
He further lead the stakeholders forum through things that the Agency is doing and will do; these include development of a PKI system, 660 rack Tier III capacity Data Center and G-Cloud, development of appropriate regulations to give effect to the Act regulatory ICT space in Ghana, Open Data policy and Data exchange hub, Government enterprise agreements e.g. Microsoft, (Oracle, Dell) to come and implement Business Strategy to become a responsive and effective partner and regulator.
BY YESMAN ANTOH, NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS, BUSINESS & POLITICAL, AFRICA CORRESPONDENT
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