New laws to regulate Ghana's ICT industry
Laws to regulate Ghana's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are underway to make this sector more attractive to investors.
Ghana is bringing on board four laws to sanitise the national ICT environment.
The bills, namely The National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Electronic Transactions, Electronic Communications, and the New Telecommunications Amendment bill have undergone all the legislative rituals awaiting the approval of Cabinet.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) currently regulates the telecommunications industry, but according to Chief Director Kweku Adarkwah, "The functions of the Authority need to be expanded and institutionally focused to make the sector attractive to all investors."
"It has become necessary to revise the legislation that established the Authority in order to achieve a clear separation of regulation matters and institutional matters, hence the shift in focus," he said.
Promote competition - attract investors
A memorandum attached to the NCA Bill (2006) says the move has become necessary in view of the development of novel ICT legislation. It would also strengthen the new National Telecommunications policy.
The National Telecommunications Policy (2005) advocates a stronger and transparent NCA that would promote competition, universal access and a more enabling environment to attract investments into ICT.
The NCA bill would empower the Authority to deal with matters that are purely institutional in nature, such as strategic planning, policy implementation, monetary and adherence to the principles of corporate governance.
The Electronic Transaction bill forms part of the e-legislation package, which targets statutory authority for the new national telecommunications policy to provide legal framework for electronic transactions and other processes.
The objective for the drafting of the bill was to facilitate the use of electronic media to speed up government and private businesses in recognition of the need to provide a framework for the preparation, process, storage transmissions and receipt of electronic data in a secure, efficient and trustworthy manner.
Regulate broadcasting and protect consumers
The Electronic Communications Bill is derived from the e-legislation legal framework for transaction, computer misuse, cyber security, data protection and electronic funds transfer which are the associated features of e-communications.
The bill seeks to regulate electronic communication and broadcasting services in accordance with the national electronic communication and broadcasting policies. It also seeks to regulate and control electronic communication and broadcasting matters in the public interest and to create an independent regulatory environment designed to achieve this objective.
The bill repeals the telecommunications (frequency registration and control) decree, 1977 (SMCD 71), which include services regulations.
NITA, which would operate under the e-Transactions Bill (2006), is expected to promote the provision of quality information technology and promote standards of efficiency and ensure a high quality of service.
Provisions under the Electronic Transaction Bill include the criminalisation of acts contravening transparency and security, laws of prosecution, provision for domain name registry, the establishment of a registry, its functions, duties, license registrations and a governing body.
It also contains provisions on consumer protection that include cyber offences, inspections, tribunal, industry form, a certifying agency, prohibited acts, e-government services and cyber inspectors.
The e-Communications Bill also provides for access to spectrum management, testing inspection, and the power to request for information, rural communications services and monitoring, evaluation and tariffs for rural communications.
Published courtesy of