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10.04.2007 General News

Four ICT bills before cabinet

By myjoyonline

Four information and communication technology (lCT) bills, namely: National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Electronic Transaction Bill, New Telecom Bill and Amendment Bill are currently before Cabinet.

The bills are receiving final inputs from Cabinet before they go to Parliament.

Ofosu Adarkwah, Chief Director of Ministry of Communication, disclosed this to BusinessWeek in Accra last week at the NCA's 1st Broadcasting forum held in Accra.

According to him, it is the hope of the Ministry that the four bills will be passed into law as soon as possible in order to bring sanity into the industry. When established, the agency will perform all the functions of a certifying agency established under the Electronic Technology Act (ETA) and also monitor the implementation of national information communication technology policy.

The agency will be solely responsible for implementing and enforcing the provision of NITA Act after Parliament has passed it into law.
It will also resolve all matters involving domain names within the Domain Name Register under the ETA in accordance with the provisions of the NITA Act; and monitor, enforce and ensure effective compliance with conditions contained in licences and tariffs.

The Electronic Transaction Bill seeks to regulate electronic communications and transactions. This also is in accordance with National Information and Communication Technology policy.

This is meant to remove and prevent barriers to electronic communications and transactions. It also aims at promoting legal certainty and confidence in electronic transactions.

When passed into law, it will ensure efficient use and management of the country's domain space. Further, it will also ensure that the interests and image of the nation are not compromised through the use of electronic communications.

After passage, the Act will oversee the recognition of electronic messages and original writings, secure electronic records and digital signatures.

The new Telecommunication Bill will provide regulations for control of electronic communications as well as broadcasting. After being passed, it will in relation to electronic government (e-government) applications and intra-government communication.

The e-government project is expected to help increase ICT-based jobs and also raise export-led revenues generated by the ICT industry by about US$90 million per annum.

It is also intended to protect the interest of subscribers, purchasers and other users of electronic communications, networks and broadcasting services to meet the needs of Ghanaians in the event of war, natural disaster or public emergency.

The NCA amendment bill is a result of numerous complaints from industry operators about the regulations. The amendment expects NCA to make itself capable of considering how competitive constraints in Ghana might impede anticipated future developments in the telecom industry.

After its passage, stakeholders in the industry expect the regulator to use various kinds of platforms to explain in simple terms for the benefit of the consumer, industry practices that relate to call termination on each mobile network, which subject is key to the affordability of services by consumers and users of mobile phones.

Credit; BusinessWeek

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