Dr Rohan Samarajiva

Experts operating in the telecommunications industry took part in a global internet policy breakfast in Accra to discuss issues concerning internet content, among others.

The experts, including the Minister of Telecommunications, Haruna Iddrisu, Ambassador Michael R. Gardener, a Washington-based Communications policy lawyer, Ory Okolloh, Google?s Policy Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa and Dr Rohan Samarajiva, founding chair of LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank, expressed divergent opinions on the issue.

The controversial issue popped up during a number of international ICT conferences but players in the industry have not made a conclusive decision.

Hon. Iddrisu hinted that it would be out of place to equate regulation of the internet to censorship, adding ?that is what we must avoid.?

The minister pointed out that the two must be separated while advocating respect for the sovereignty of a nation in terms of the internet.

?Why put internet in a regulatory straight jacket?? quizzed Ambassador Gardener, who is also chairman of the United States Telecommunications Training Institute.

He was of the opinion that the developing world, particularly Africa which has recorded 33 per cent growth in internet penetration ?is poised to leapfrog to become leaders, and Africa is no longer in the dark ages.?

Ambassador Gardener described Ghana?s record of 14.11 per cent internet penetration as compared to 2.4 percent in 2008 as ?a success story? but ?it is not ok?

He added that efforts must be intensified to make internet connectivity accessible and affordable to all.

Ms Okolloh, Google?s Policy Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, said Africa only consumes content provided by others outside the continent and called for the development of innovative software, which could be exported to the rest of the world.

She said Google, which has six offices across Africa, was focusing on making internet more accessible and encouraged the connection of universities across the continent.

According to Dr Samarajiva, the regulation of the internet would be counter-productive.

?I think it is not harmful at all but rather beneficial.?

By Emelia Ennin Abbey


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