Government Policies Driving the Growth of Cloud Computing in Ghana



PHOTO: AFP

Governments are important actors in the cloud economy in several ways (UNCTAD, 2013). The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Communications, is currently building a data center, and is planning to act as a cloud service provider to provide private cloud services and third parties as well.          

In addition to the ICT for Accelerated Development (“ICT4AD”) policy, the Government of Ghana, through its policies and actions, has put in place the legal and regulatory infrastructure that is presently influencing and progressively eliminating all the barriers to successful migration of organizations onto cloud within the Ghanaian jurisdiction.  Pillar 14 of Ghana’s ICT4AD policy relates to security agencies using ICT to combat cyber-crime. The pillar, among other things, prioritizes capacity building, international cooperation, and lays the architecture for security agencies, to enable them use ICT to combat crime, and also to ensure that the legal text of the policy is up to date to help security agencies prosecute any cyber-crime offenders.

The Electronic Transaction Act (2008) articulates legislation on cloud data transmission and storage, and prescribes punishment for offenders. The Act also addresses issues on the fight against cyber-crime.

The Data Protection Act, passed by the Parliament of Ghana, supports the protection of private data of government, citizens and businesses in Ghana.

Collectively, these laws and policies, to some extent, show Ghana’s readiness for the advancement of cloud computing. They have been put in place to make cloud computing more accessible and regulated in Ghana. They also create an environment which increases the availability of cloud computing tools. Interestingly, there are less governmental policies which create obstacles for ICT development in Ghana as compared to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.



ICT for Accelerated Development Prompting Ghana’s Cloud Readiness

Ghana’s cloud readiness was examined by comparing the favorable policies that have allowed cloud computing to thrive in Ghana, as well as ICT infrastructure targeted at driving socio-economic development.

The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Communications, has pursued policies that are currently helping to increase ICT infrastructure. This, in turn, increases the availability of cloud computing tools to the vast majority of Ghanaians. The National Telecommunications Policy for instance aims that every citizen and resident of the Republic of Ghana shall have available, high quality and affordable access to information and communications services to help transform Ghana into a knowledge-based society and technology-driven economy.

This policy recognizes the primacy of integrating and growing the wealth of indigenous social and technical knowledge to inform, enhance and sustain the development of Ghana as a distinct and productive player in the global information technology society.

The Ghana ICT for Accelerated development policy, which was also created by the Ministry of Communications of the Republic of Ghana, and modeled after the Obama Administration’s National Broadband Plan, has as its primary objective to engineer an ICT-led socio-economic development process with the potential to transform Ghana into a middle-income, information-rich, knowledge-based and technology-driven economy and society.

The National Information Technology Agency (“NITA”, the “Policy”), established in 2008, is the Ministry of Communication’s ICT development and implementation arm. As at early 2011, NITA was working to revitalize the ICT4AD policy to better accommodate the country’s current needs. In May 2011, the Policy was reviewed to include four new thematic areas, namely, Broadband Policy, Cyber Security Policy, Geo-Information Policy, as well as the Environment and Climate Change Policy.

According to Yeboah-Boateng and Seshie, 2013, ICT development in Ghana is driven by the ICT for Accelerated Development Policy and the National Telecom Policy (“NTP”).
The goals of the NTP, aside supporting the realization of the vision of the national ICT4AD policy, are to establish market structures that will be most beneficial to Ghana’s citizens and businesses, and to set in motion, the procedures and incentives that will boost the market’s development.

Since the first internet connection was set up in 1989, Ghana has been a regional leader in ICT.  Over the past two decades, the government and the private sector have worked together to maintain this lead. The ITU’s “Measuring the Information Society” report for 2012 identified Ghana as one of the most dynamic countries, registering a 23% increase in its ICT Development Index (“IDI”), between 2010 and 2011. Ghana’s 2012 ID1 is 2.60, from 1.61 in 2007. This makes Ghana the most dynamic country in terms of rank change in both use and access to ICT.

Achampong, 2012 also discussed the government’s on-going ICT4AD program, and how it has resulted in numerous improvements in various sectors and the economy as a whole. Achampong, 2012 further noted that the plan, which was being reevaluated to meet the needs of the rapidly changing ICT sector, is expected to play a major role in coming years.

The spurt in cloud computing, as a main tool in economic advancement,  will eventually go on to create vast opportunities for Ghanaian firms in their attempt to build world-class yet local operations, as well as induce innovation among Ghana’s newly entrepreneurial youth.



The National Telecommunications Policy Liberalizing ICT Sector in Ghana

Ghana has had a strategic approach to promoting and regulating ICT. The Government of Ghana, with the intention of building a strong ICT foundation that will further move Ghana towards the realization of a true and inclusive information society that would enhance economic growth, developed the National Telecoms Policy in 2005.

This policy discusses the fair allocation of network development costs and fair access to the network by telecommunications operators, as well as content providers. For instance, the policy mandates that there shall be no limitations on entry and operation in the market to provide internet services; hence liberalizing the market, and facilitating widespread entry into the marketplace.

The policy is an archetype of the Government’s vision that every citizen and resident of the Republic of Ghana should have available, high quality, and affordable access to information and communication services that would help transform Ghana into a knowledge-based society and technology-driven economy.

The National Telecom Policy defines universal access to telecommunications as the availability, through broad geographic coverage, of community-based broadband information and communication services that include voice, data services, access to the internet, local relevant content, community radio and Government services that are available, affordable, and of high quality for all citizens of Ghana.

The policy contained a number of targets and specific goals, including:

• Universal access for all communities and population groups in Ghana to telephone, internet, and multimedia services by the year 2010;

• National penetration of universal telecommunications service to reach 25% of the population, including at least 10% in rural areas by the year 2010;

• Connection of all schools, medical clinics, and government offices and public and community broadcasting stations to advanced telecommunications services;

• Fully open, private, and competitive markets for all telecommunications services;

• Streamlined, efficient, and effective regulation of the telecommunications industry on a fully transparent, technologically neutral, and competitively balanced basis;

• Affordable prices for telecommunications services, particularly for low income citizens;

• Profitable investment opportunities for businesses in all segments of the market;

• Ghana shall be seen as a first-class hub for international telecommunications and information industry investment, jobs and development, and a leader in the transformation of Africa toward full participation in the Information Society.

Alliance for Affordable Internet, 2013, identifies the following as specific policy goals of NTP 2005:

·         achieving universal access to telephone, internet and multimedia services by 2010; and

·         national penetration of universal telecommunications services to reach 25% of the population, including at least 10% in rural areas by the year 2010.

In many respects, the growth of Ghana’s ICT sector over the immediate decade has exceeded all expectations, showing that the implementation of NTP 2005 has been a success. For instance, between 2005 and the end of 2012, mobile penetration grew from 13.28% to 100.28%. Mobile telephone and payphone subscription increased by 200% over a decade, while internet usage is growing steadily with increased capacity for the deployment of 4th Generation Applications.

Frempong, 2012 noted that significant improvements have been seen in the Ghanaian ICT industry as a result of the implementation of the strategies coming out of the ICT4AD and National Telecom Policy, but notes that there is still a lot to do.


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