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Ghana News

Understanding the Digital Space Key to Effective Regulation – NITA

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Solomon Kofi Richardson, the Chief Technical Officer of the National Information Technology Authority (NITA), has disclosed that regulating the digital space has not been an easy task for regulators like NITA because they are trying to understand the space well before proffering appropriate and effective regulations. He made this known at the recent MTN Business CTIO Roundtable Africa 2023 where he was a panellist.

He stated that NITA is still trying to understand modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain before coming up with regulations, and this could take up to two years. This confirms the recent assertion by the CEO of the MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, that technological advancement has outgrown regulation in Africa. Most industry regulations on the continent are targeted at regulating ‘voice’ instead of the digital space.

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Regulators need to rise up to the occasion to keep up the pace, according to Ralph Mupita. African regulators need to evolve their regulatory frameworks to reflect technological advancements since the world is undergoing major digital transformation and disruption.

The delays in African countries rolling out new technologies are largely due to the lack of sufficient understanding of the space by persons who work in regulation. Another issue that came up at the forum was the penchant of African regulators to collect revenue in the form of fees, charges, levies, and fines from industry players more than creating an enabling environment for the industry to thrive.

Government’s 2003 ICT for Development (ICT4D) policy has run its full course, and NITA is now developing a new policy called the Digital Economy Policy (DEP), which will position NITA to create the appropriate regulations that will create an enabling environment for the industry to thrive. NITA’s style of regulation will move away from a profit-oriented one to an enabling-oriented one.

Industry players have the expertise needed to develop effective regulations; hence NITA is consulting extensively on the development of new regulations. The Companies ID Database will be created by the Registrar-General Department, and once created, it will be integrated via an API to all private organizations to make it easier for every institution to check the background of any company they do business with.

A Digital Governance Framework is being established to spell out the format by which data is shared between institutions across all sectors. Digital sovereignty is being considered to determine whether all data on Ghanaians should be stored in Ghana, like in some jurisdictions, or whether some data can be stored elsewhere, like in other jurisdictions.

Data protection in Ghana is virtually non-existent, and virtually anyone can access data on Ghanaians for any purpose without real controls. For the most part, this shows that African countries need to put in place regulations that will protect their citizens’ data and enable the digital space to thrive.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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