Yesterday, the world marked the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) under the theme: ’Telecommunication and ICT: Drivers of innovation’. WTISD is said to be a day set aside to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.
It is an annual event observed on 17th May by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to mark the founding of the ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. The WTISD established by a United Nations General Assembly resolution, Resolution 60/252 (A/RES/60/252, 2006) also invites ITU Member States and Sector Members to celebrate this day of which the Ministry of Communications is the lead agency in Ghana.
As part of this resolution, each Member State including Ghana is to open up a dialogue at national and local levels to engage telecommunication stakeholders on pertinent issues underlying the theme for the celebration in order to create awareness of the possibilities and the potential dangers the Internet and other ICTs can bring to societies and economies. Ghana led by the Ministry of Communications, however, has not actively celebrated this day since the passage of Resolution 60/252 in 2006. The digital migration has been set to take full effect in February 2016 along with its pros and cons; the risks associated with ICTs are evolving fast, and are most acute in relation to young people. Just as children have always bullied each other, cyber bullying is increasingly identified as a key ICT issue for children and young people. Are Ghanaians going to wait until we experience the negative effects of ICTs in our society before we jump into action to fix the mess caused by our own inaction? Extensive resources exist to educate parents, children and young adults from developed countries about the ICT risks and opportunities available within the cyberspace yet the ramification is shocking. We must leverage on such resources to build a society informed and aware of the immense benefits as well as risks associated with the use of ICTs.
The Government of Ghana has prioritized ICT access for schools since 2003, largely by partnering with corporate and non-profit partners, but less has been done in the area of child online protection (COP). The Global Resource & Information Directory (GRID), an encyclopedia of information maintained by the Family Online Safety Institute on worldwide Internet trends for children and youths found close to no information relating to initiatives geared towards the provision of online safety information for Ghanaians as current sites focus on improving access to ICTs and internet usage. At the launch of ‘Girls in ICT’ in April 2012 in Ghana which is a global initiative aimed at encouraging girls to go into ICT, a Committee was inaugurated with the mandate of developing female ICT role models for young girls through mentoring, policy advocacy and training without the aspect of child online protection component.
J Initiative (JI) is a grass root children and young people focused, non-religious, non-governmental organization dedicated to raising awareness on issues that affect families especially women/girls and children. We wish to call on the Ministry of Communications, the telecommunication companies and other telecommunication and ICT related stakeholders to create the platform to engage the citizenry (right holders) beyond giving them access to the drivers of innovation.
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