The Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) has held the maiden edition of the Ghana Internet Conference. GISPA is the umbrella body of all internet services providers in the country.
The conference held at the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT on Thursday October 17, 2019, in Accra, was under the theme: 'Global Internet Development Lessons for Local ISPS for Business Growth & Affordable Internet Provision.'
It featured a panel discussion with key stakeholders within the internet space in Ghana making valuable contributions to the discussions for the day.
The conference is expected to be organised annually to throw light into the development, challenges and opportunities in the internet industry globally and locally.
Delivering a welcome address, the President of GISPA, Mr Richard Densu, noted that the world has become much more visible and colorful to everyone because of the internet.
He said the internet of today is giving an unprecedented opportunity to everyone, irrespective of age to choose what they want, socialise and promote businesses.
He deduced that although the internet revolution brings new forms of progress daily, it also comes with some challenges including the issues of cyber threats, personal security and safety of governments.
“That is why it is important that we as industry players lead the way in creating platforms such as this (conference), so that we can all come around the table to discuss how we can make the services we provide better for our customers,” he explained.
Mr Densu indicated that GISPA will in the coming months, facilitate these meetings on regular basis.
"But of course, this Ghana Conference, will become our annual calendar event which we anticipate will get bigger in the coming years," he said.
Contributing to the discussions at the conference, Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, a leading figure in the development of internet in Ghana, urged the government to scrap taxes on internet.
Prof Quaynor, who is also a founding member of the Computer Science Department at the University of Cape Coast, said the "internet, is just like water or air, you should not be taxing those things and if you tax them it will show. It will affect your development."
He said the imposition of taxes will deepen the digital divide, just as the lack of infrastructure has deepened the digital divide.
The renowned Professor proposed that government should instead tax the products, services and jobs which have arisen due to the existence of the internet in the country like transport or courier services.
“From my point of view, the internet is so pervasive in so many areas that we really should avoid generating revenue out of it. We should rather focus on the benefits and if there are some successful benefits in services, then you can try and tax those services," he stated.
He,however, agreed with the government’s move to ensure that for security reasons, all sim cards are properly registered.
For his part, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, indicated that one of the biggest challenges being faced by telcos in Ghana was fibre cuts.
According to him, “we are currently spending too much money in fixing fibre cuts. We are recording over 300 fibre cuts a month. Last year it cost 45.5 million dollars to fix."
He added that "this year we are almost above that already. One of our members who has budgeted half a million dollars, not to expand fibre to a village like Tsiame, but to fix it. After the very first quarter, they had to go back to their board for extra money.”