Ghana on, Wednesday, joined the rest of the world to mark the 2017 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), on the theme: “Big Data for Big Impact”.
The World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865.
The theme for WTISD-17 is in line with ITU’s work of highlighting the technological developments that have facilitated the emergence of Big Data, developing standards related to Big Data and identifying sources and uses of Big Data, including the use of Big Data technologies for developing and monitoring improvements in information societies.
Mr George Andah, a Deputy Minister of Communications, in his address to commemorate the event, in Accra, noted that the world had become Information and Communication Technology (ICT) dependent, hence the need for the public to be security conscious in order not to expose their behaviour pattern online.
The Deputy Minister, therefore, cautioned the public against leaving digital footprints as well as some data leakage when using the various technologies to generate extraordinary amount of data.
He said the theme chosen for this year’s celebration was, therefore, timely because the world had already commenced discussions on the ‘Internet of Things’, and also social media had caught on fast with everyone and so much data was being churned out daily.
Mr Andah explained that Big Data was a term that described ‘large volume of data, both structured and unstructured and which also could be analysed for insights that led to better decisions and strategic inventions.’
He said the amount of data that was being created and stored on a global level was almost inconceivable and it kept growing by the minute.
Within the healthcare, education and agriculture system, big data could make significant impact positively and uncover hidden insights for improvement in all these sectors, he said.
“The youth have embraced the technology so much so that it has become an efficient and faster mode of acquiring knowledge, sharing information and becoming aware,” he stated.
Mr Houlin Zhao, the Secretary-General of the ITU’s speech to mark the day, was read on his behalf by Mr Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, the Chairman of the National Communications Authority (NCA).
Mr Zhao said the 2017 theme focused on the power of Big Data for development and aimed to explore how to turn imperfect, complex, often unstructured data into actionable information in a development context.
“The insight brought on by advanced analysis can strongly complement the evidence-based nature of decision-making that can be leveraged at national, regional and international levels to drive success towards attaining all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030,” he said.
He said the event was also an occasion to take a closer look at the importance of governance and regulation, and the implications for personal privacy and security given the future exponential growth in data and connectivity.
“Countless opportunities will be identified as we learn to better perfect and harness big data, and understand the impact big data can have as a global good,” he said.
“Activities undertaken by the ITU Membership will contribute towards building political momentum to embrace Big Data and leverage insights to identify new opportunities to creatively address sustainable development challenges,” he said.
Mr Sakyi-Addo, for his part said: “I believe that it is time now, more than ever, to fully explore the possibilities of this concept, Big Data and the impact thereof. I am sure that this event today will be of benefit to all Ghanaians.”
He said he would work with his team of board members to advance the nation’s telecommunication industry, which was the bedrock of many industries.
Ms Cynthia Prah, the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre, who represented the UN Resident Coordinator, said data would play a significant role in the attainment of the 2030 SDGs.
“Data can and will transform our communities if we are able to understand and use it well,” she stated.