We must own our own internet – Professor Quaynor

Thursday 11th July, 2019
Science internet forum

By Gifty Amofa/ Alfred Nii-Martey, GNA

Accra, July 11, GNA - Professor Nii Quaynor, Father of the Internet in Africa, has called for the development of internet applications or programmes so that Ghana would not continue to depend on other countries for them.

We must own our internet, he said, adding that “Do not acquire or procure but develop them because they continue to expire and Ghana would have to depend on the producers for renewals which does not augur well for its development”.

Professor Quaynor was addressing internet professionals, internet service providers, academia, among other stakeholders at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Information Communication Technology (AITI-KACE) in Accra on Thursday at the 2019 two-day Ghana Internet Governance Forum.

Dubbed “Digital Communities: Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders for Sustainable Development”, the forum is under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and sponsored by the National Communications Authority (NCA), NITA, Media Foundation for West Africa, E-Crime Bureau, MTN, National Cyber Security Centre and others.

He said “we have to own our own internet and make our information society”.

Those who help Ghanaians to develop soft wares, application and others can own what belonged to Ghanaians but it would not be the same as they owning them themselves, he said.

“These ‘Saviours’ of yours may prevent you from learning because they may want to remain there forever and would not want to give you your technology liberation”.

He urged IT experts not to entertain self-sufficiency, but work together to exchange ideas on how to improve the internet sector in the country by finding solutions to issues identified.

Professor Quaynor disagreed with the fact that there should be a shut-down in the internet facility in any environment, saying apart from the rights of the citizens being curtailed, the country risked losing millions of dollars economically.

He urged participants not to waste time in coming up with such policies, else, governments would fail.

No developed country does that, he said, adding that Ghana had nothing like due process to be followed in court when it came to such policies either than the common laws that gave people the chance to explain themselves.

The Father of the Internet in Africa said, it was all inclusiveness in the usage of technology as every user owned his or her part and each had a different policy domain, hence, the need for a multi-stakeholder approach.

He explained that a multi-stakeholder approach goes beyond the internet and advised the participants to get issues addressed before they got to policies.

“Communities coming up with policies help governance and is real that policies lie behind technology,” he noted.

Prof Quaynor urged the participants to learn to balance between their rights to accessing the internet and their responsibilities.

Ms Felicia Anthonio of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), said there would be no justification for government to shut-down internet though it had the responsibility to protect its citizens from both internal and external cybercrimes.

Mrs Juliet Amoah, Executive Director, Penplusbyte called on the media and Civil Society Organisations to grab the laws on the rights of citizens’ internet usage to hold government accountable on that.

Mr Ken Adu-Amanfoh, Executive Director, Africa Cybersecurity and Digital Rights Organisation, said as telecommunication organisations had service agreements with their subscribers, they should ensure they provided service to their subscribers without allowing government to shut-down the internet, else they can be sued.