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Information Technology Policy Continues...

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR GHANA - Continues...

i. IT Management Structures

To ensure a structured approach to transforming Ghana's economy into an IT-driven activity, the government will put in place

A National IT Agency

An IT Task Force

A Citizens IT Group

A Business IT Group

a. The National Information Technology Agency - NITA

NITA will be established by a Presidential instrument to co-ordinate the efficient and cost-effective implementation of IT and related activities in Ghana. The scope of co-ordination will include:

1. Policy development, review and co-ordination

2. Project scope monitoring and advisory functions

3. Monitoring of national beneficiaries of projects (locally or internationally funded)

4. Co-ordination of all IT projects in the public sector, regardless of funding sources

NITA will also establish 'Framework Contracts' with reputable suppliers for the provision of a wide range of IT consultancy, specialist services and IT products to government agencies, in order to capitalize on lower costs through bulk purchases. This strategy does not exclude legitimate local bid processes to confirm the cost-effectiveness of the Framework Contracts

NITA will be headed by a CIO and supported by five executives with professional qualifications and/or experience in:

1. IT project management

2. Internet gateway (including PoPs, ISPs and telecenters) design and implementation

3. Information and database management

4. Value-added Internet services (e-commerce, distance learning, etc)

5. Policy development and co-ordination

NITA will report directly to the President [Vice-President] of the Republic of Ghana and its office will be located in the Office of the President [Vice-President].

The schedule of tenure for NITA staff will be a maximum of two years. NITA staff will therefore need to be on secondment and will return to their organisations after the two-year period. On an as-needed basis, NITA could recruit consultant for specific functions

b. The IT Task Force - ITTF

The IT Task Force (ITTF) will comprise five IT experts nominated by the NITA. The first ITTF is however, nominated by the Office of the Chief of Staff in the absence of NITA. ITTF will be responsible for developing the national IT policy for clearance by the NITA and approval by parliament. The ITTF is an ad hoc body that will be formed on a periodic basis depending on the requirements of NITA. Task force members can be nominated from private as well as public institutions.

c. The Citizens IT Group - CIT

The Citizens IT (CIT) group will be the citizen's interface into the national policy and IT development dialogue. CIT will consist of 5 permanent members who will be in liaison with NITA. The CIT Group will meet with NITA on as-needed basis to:

1. Prompt and help organise workshops for national brainstorming, and awareness raising on policy, standards and guidelines

2. Ensure rapid policy modifications due to specific trends in the economy and as an outcome of workshops

3. Advise on appropriate upgrading of standards and guidelines

d. Business IT Group - BIT

The Business IT (BIT) group will be a business-oriented professional Think-Tank comprising voluntary membership from local IT businesses and associations. BIT will provide direct inputs into agenda development by CIT. BIT will participate actively in the organisation of workshops approved by NITA through the CIT. They will mount exhibitions and capacity-building activities at such workshops. The BIT will invite international counterparts to such workshops, as relevant. -

e. Regulatory and Licensing Agencies

NITA will work closely with existing statutory bodies i.e.: NCA, Standards Board, etc, to ensure proper licensing and regulating regimes relating to IT.

ii. Human Resource Development

1. To ensure sustainability in an IT-led socio-economic development, the government will put in place, the necessary facilities and resources to:

a. Make IT a mandatory subject at all levels of education, both public and private

b. Ensure that IT curriculum are developed and used at all levels of education (nursery, kindergarten, primary, secondary, polytechnic, and university

c. Establish IT institutions in all districts

d. To forge mutually beneficial affiliations between IT institutions, universities and IT industries.

2. Within the above context, the government will create a National Council for IT Education (NCITE), within the Ministry of Education, comprising experts from both industry and academia. The NCITE will be responsible for developing a dynamic curriculum to accurately reflect the rapid developments taking place in Information Technology. The Council will launch a series of programmes including:

a. A Teach-the-Teachers' programme to upgrade on a regular basis the IT knowledge and skills of teachers.

b. A Computers-for-Schools Scheme to enable every student, teacher or school to purchase computers through attractive financial packages.

c. A National Telecenter Programme to bring computers and the Internet closer to the public

3. The above programmes will be supported by initiatives that will make computers accessible and affordable for all Ghanaians. Such initiatives will include:

a. Collaboration with banks for easy-installment bank loans,

b. Collaboration with IT companies and other business houses to donate computers to educational and medical institutions

c. Facilitation of large-volume bargain price imports,

d. Provision of a framework and incentives for multi-lateral funding,

e. Promotion and incentives for local manufacturing and assembly of open system computers

4. The government will establish in collaboration with academia, IT industries and businesses:

a. The Ghana Institute of Information Technology (GIIT). The Institute will have Accreditation status for IT Education and Training Programmes and will promote professionalism amongst IT practitioners

b. A "National Qualification Framework" will be developed by the GIIT for the award of diplomas and certificates for distance learning

c. A National Information Technology Institute (NITI), that will provide diploma, B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. courses in information management, information technology, system analysis and engineering and IT security and regulations

5. Computers and Internet access will be made available in every public institution in the country.

6. Universities, research and other institutions of higher will be networked for distance learning programmes to supplement and improve the quality and accessibility of education.

7. Tertiary institutions (universities and polytechnics) will be assisted to restructure their curricula in order to triple the output of IT specialists

8. The Government will promote the pairing of national institutions of higher learning with centers of IT excellence in other countries.

9. The concept of SMART Schools with emphasis on practical IT skills and broad IT culture will be piloted in all districts level to ensure relevance to local development

10. District-level Digital Library Projects will be designed and implemented through the Ministry of Education and the District Assemblies

11. Virtual Learning Centers (VLCs) for distance learning will be created by Universities, polytechnics, secondary and primary schools for access by all districts to supplement the shortfall in the number of learning institutions. The VLCs will supplement extra curricular and after-school programmes.

iii. Systems Development

1. To ensure an enabling environment for local software development both at the national and institutional levels the government will systematically:

a. Invest in viable software development ventures and companies.

For example:

. Sourcing and guaranteeing loans

. Providing a framework for tax incentives

b. Encourage universities and polytechnics to produce commercial quality software

c. Promote investment by foreign and local businesses in software development

d. Team up with the private sector to develop software tailored to national and local needs

e. Invest in and promoting development of software in local languages

f. Plough back a reasonable percentage of profits accrued through the above activities, into new IT ventures especially in the agricultural and educational and health sectors

iv. Manufacture and Assembly of Hardware

1. To ensure an enabling environment for local hardware manufacturing and assembly the government will systematically:

a. Invest in viable hardware manufacturing and assembling ventures and businesses

b. Plan for and provide budgets for universities and polytechnics to produce commercially viable hardware and accessories,

c. Promote and provide incentives for national and international businesses to support local hardware ventures

d. Promote investment by foreign and local businesses in local hardware manufacturing and assembly businesses

e. Provide incentives for the importation of IT equipment and accessories to augment national production

f. Make available the requisite budgets for the purchase and replacement of hardware and accessories through the institutional IT plan

g. Plough back a reasonable percentage of profits accrued through the above activities into new IT ventures, especially in the agricultural, educational and health sectors

v. Internet and Value-added Services

1. Access to information is a human right since it affects the health and educational prospects of each individual. The government will therefore put strategies into place to:

a. Reduce connectivity and access costs to the Internet

b. Encourage investment in public telecenters in all the districts to make Internet accessible and affordable

c. Provide incentives to the private sector to establish Internet services nation-wide

d. Provide incentive to large international IT companies to establish their community IT facilities in Ghana

e. Plough back a reasonable percentage of revenues accrued through the above activities into the spread and expansion of telecenters in the districts

vi. IT Planning

a. All public institutions will be required to prepare a dynamic three-year IT Plan.

b. 1-3% of the budget of every public institution will be earmarked for the implementation and utilization of IT tools and applications in support of their business. Part of this budget will cover capacity building and training to ensure the required skill levels for maximum use of IT tools and applications.

c. IT budgets cannot be re-deployed for any other purpose except the planned IT activities within the IT plans

d. Institutional IT plans will be guided by the government standards and guidelines for hardware and software to ensure:

i. Compatibility across all institutional networks

ii. Interchangeability of data

iii. Optimization and consistency of training and maintenance

e. The IT plan should cover as a minimum, the following scope of activities:

i. Current IT level and skills in the institution

ii. Description of planned activities

iii. Justification of planned activities

iv. Established TORs and responsible personnel (or local institutions) for Information Management and content development, Network and Web Site Management, Capacity Building

v. Schedule for implementation

vi. Cost-Benefit analysis

f. The IT plan once completed will be reviewed and cleared by NITA, and the IT personnel of the institution concerned.

g. Budget allocation for the implementation of IT will be based on the outcome of the review of the IT Plan

vii. Standards for Hardware and Software

1. The standards for hardware and software will be dictated by the following parameters:

a. Market trends

b. Available national and/or institutional IT budget

c. Current IT level of the institution

d. Urgent, special or new requirements

2. The standards will be set by the NITA and incorporated into a Standards and Guideline manual for IT implementation

3. The standards for hardware should always be on the higher side since software development always stays one step ahead of institutional hardware upgrades

4. The standards and guideline manual will be developed and updated by the NITA

viii. IT Implementation

1The implementation of IT has organisational implications which, include:

a. Streamlining of business procedures

b. Re-engineering of business processes

c. Modification of organisational structure and policy

2. To ensure a structured approach, the implementation of IT will be based on the mandatory three-year IT plan

3. Institutions must identify the areas in which they would benefit from the introduction of IT.

4. Institutions must analyse the impact and implications of the introduction of IT on the business procedures and processes and organise necessary restructure of affected functions

5. Institutions are responsible for establishing the technical and operational support requirements as well as the cost implications for implementing IT

6. IT plans should be reviewed and revised on an annual basis to reflect changes in policy, standards and institutional requirements

ix. Installation and Maintenance

1. Standard installation procedures set out in the standards and guidelines manual must be used by all institutions

2. Institutions will budget for routine and capital maintenance of all IT assets within their three-year dynamic plans

3. A framework for the upgrade and extension to all districts of national IT infrastructure will be developed by NITA [the Ministry responsible for IT]

x. Database and Content Development

1. To ensure currency and quality of information all public institutions will have Intranets and must develop a culture of data creation and maintenance.

2. Institutions will be inter-connected though a national backbone based on existing national infrastructure such as the VRA network

3. The Ministry of Finance should have a central database server with planning information which will be made available through authorised access, to all public institutions

4. NITA will set up a Ghana Portal, which will be the gateway to all government information and data from all public institutions. All Institutions should therefore have links to this portal.

5. The Ghana portal will be a source for dissemination of different categories of information on Ghana.

6. NITA will develop a strategy for generating revenue via the Ghana Portal for national IT projects and initiatives

7. Each institution will be responsible for creating, updating and posting its data on the national web site.

xi. Data Protection, Publications and Disclosure

1. The National Information Technology Agency (NITA) will be responsible for cyber security within our national borders until the national security agencies build up the requisite capacity

2. NITA will draw up a national policy on information security, privacy and data protection for handling of electronic data.

3. NITA in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice will address Cyber infractions within the legal framework. The laws will support the development, and Integrate good practices of internet applications (for example - digital signatures), into formal transactions

4. Cryptology and Cyber Security knowledge will be fully deployed and monitored.

5. The procedure of keeping records in paper form in public service will be restricted to a maximum duration of three months after which the records will be kept only in the electronic, magnetic or optical media.

6. Relevant electronic records will be kept by the owner institution and by the Regional Archives for a period of 5 years and from then on by the Regional and National Archives only.

7. All necessary instructions, notifications and amendments to procedures and law will be effected and issued by the responsible Ministries

xii. Public Safety and Security:

1. Information Technology has a major role in facilitating the coherent formulation of plans and policies for enforcing criminal, traffic and safety laws, for preventing and detecting crime, for apprehending law violators and for educating citizens about laws and public safety.

2. NITA must assist the various agencies responsible for preserving law and order, protecting lives, rights, property and privileges of residents of Ghana to harmonise their IT plans to ensure synergy and efficiency.

3. The collaborative agencies under public safety and security include:

a. The Police Service

b. The Immigration Service

c. National Disaster Management Organisation- NADMO

d. The National Fire Service

e. Paramedics of the Health Service

f. Vehicle Examination and Licensing Authority

g. Meteorological Services.

4. Criminal records, arrest records, criminal justice information, fingerprint identification information should all be integrated and available to the authorised agencies to support the functions of the judicial service.

5. NITA within the first year of operation must evolve an appropriate national identification scheme that uniquely identifies each Ghanaian throughout her lifetime.

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