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22.07.2005 General News

NCA and NMC asked to work harmoniously


Accra, July 22, GNA - Mr. Akwasi Afrifa, Chairman, Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications, has called for a cordial working relationship between the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the National Media Commission (NMC).

''The rules (constitution) are clear. We should all respect the constitution bearing in mind that by working on our various portions and yet acknowledging our limitations, we become more responsible.'' Mr. Afrifa, who made the call after a three-day capacity-building workshop attended by member of the Committee said the committee would facilitate such interaction.

The workshop was organised by the Committee and ICT3, a think tank to update the knowledge of members, especially, new ones, on key concepts, themes and policy direction for the sector. It was also to enable them to effectively discharge their oversight responsibilities of the sector.

The workshop was funded by the USAID through its Trade and Investment Programme for a Competitive Export Economy (TIPCEE) and telecom service operators.

Participants were introduced to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), fixed telecom services, mobile telecom services, Internet services, regulatory issues and ICT governance. Mr. Afrifa charged the NCA to strengthen its capacity and streamline its operations in order to create a level playing field for all ICT operators.

"You have to recruit more competent hands to do your job well. In fact, you must get what you need to make you more efficient." He asked that rural telephone development should be taken seriously to improve the lot of the rural person.

The Chairman expressed concern about the proliferation of computer learning centres in the country and asked who the examining body was and who ensured what standards are maintained.

Mr Kan Dapaah, Minister of Communications, said the national ICT policy for accelerated national development was crucial "at the nation's present circumstances."

He said certain measures were been pursued under the policy to make Ghana a well-grounded information society. "These targets are to connect villages with ICTs and establish community access points, connect universities, colleges, secondary schools, public libraries hospitals and also establish community access points."

He said the National Telecommunication Policy (NTP) developed in 2004 would also seek to create a congenial climate for stability, predictability and fair competition at all levels.

"It is being implemented in a manner that would not only attract more private investment for ICT infrastructure development but also enable universal service obligation to be met where traditional markets fail to work."

According to the Minister, one of the initiatives being pursued by government to hasten the pace of ICT development is the operationalisation of the Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunication Development (GIFTEL) meant to subsidise the cost of providing services in rural and under-served areas.

He told members of the committee that in the course of the year, the Ministry of Communication would introduce the Telecommunication Bill 2005, the revised National Communication Authority (NCA) ACT 2005 and Electronic and Computer Misuse Bill to confront the increasing menace of cyber crime.

"There is the growing recognition at the national, regional and international levels of the need to develop, deploy and promote policies, standards, technical guidelines and procedures to reduce vulnerabilities to threats of ICT systems and networks to protect the information stored and communicated through systems." He said:" Government would ensure that a robust legal framework is put in place to address computer intrusion (hacking), theft of trade secrets and economic espionage, theft of computer and high-tech components and fraud and internet crimes."

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications has oversights duties over the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Information as well as NCA and NMC.