Wednesday, October 24, 2007

GHAJICT Executive Member Says "Form Ghana ICT Watch Group"


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


By Mawutodzi K. Abissath [Executive member of GHAJICT-Ed]

Wisdom of African ancestors is reflected in this proverb which warns: “If you rear a baby snake, it will grow up and bite you to death.”

In October last year, I wrote an article titled: “African ICT Gurus, where are you?” As matter of fact, my only motive for writing that article was to throw some kind of challenge to ICT experts on our beloved continent to stimulate them to come together to use their expertise to help combat poverty in Africa through ICT.

I cited some countries, especially India to illustrate my vision. My visualization of combined efforts of Africa ICT gurus could transform poverty stricken souls of th continent into robust feeding hands of the globe. Unfortunately it appeared I could not translate my thoughts into words properly so there was some sort of mistaken conception.


Undoubtedly, my readers know by now that I am not an IT expert myself and I never pretended to be one. I am a humble ordinary journalist only interested in the subject matter of information technology. So, in the said article (see Daily Graphic of Friday 30th October 2004) I innocently picked out Bill Gates of America as my global ICT role model and praised him to the blue heaven. The reason was that, for what I read about him on the Internet, he was someone whose formal education never went beyond first year university. Yet, his foresight, vision, ingenuity and creativity had made him one of the richest human beings through ICT on this planet (of understanding). I thought Ghanaian JSS dropouts must know this fact.


In fact I had observed in that article that if Bill Gates had been a Ghanaian or an African, he would have been referred to as a “DROPOUT”. Funny enough, one of the people who reacted to my article stated that “Bill Gates is not even an ICT expert”. That was a typical demonstration of the other side of African mentality. We almost always apply our ingenuity in a rather negative direction. That is why instead of our so-called “witches” and “wizards” engaging in inventions like some Black Americans, who are reported to have achieved in the past, they use their “thing” to destroy souls.

As you know, at the very moment Ghana was basking in global glory for having successfully hosted a World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in first week of February in Accra, news flashed across the globe that our beloved country has been banned from Internet Shopping because some people who have good knowledge of ICT have been applying their skills for fraudulent and negative purposes in their selfish interest without any consideration of the consequences to mother Ghana.


The objective of this piece is to attempt to put across some layman’s suggestions for the consideration of the experts. In the first place, it is reassuring that the Government of Ghana is not sleeping over the issue at stake at all. Investigations have proved that since the news about the ban became public a week ago or so, the national security agencies have put their strategies into high gear to arrest the situation. It does not speak well of Ghana at all that such negative news from Africa should emanate from our mother land.


While the security personnel are doing their own thing, it is suggested that ordinary citizens who make use of ICT, particularly Internet users should come up with some ideas or views or suggestions as to how the nation can combat cyber crimes in the way Ghana police are dealing with armed robbery with dispatch. God bless them! Ghanaian ICT gurus and other stakeholders of the industry must not sit on the fence at all. If they are not part of the problem then they must be part of the solution. ICT experts must be the first to identify the crooks among them and flush them out before the entire industry is taken to the dogs.

My layman’s suggestion is that all ICT gurus in Ghana, no matter their fields of specialty, that is, whether they are in networking, web designing , software development or hardware technicians, they must come together to form a body solely devoted to combating cyber crimes in the country. This body may be known and called Ghana ICT Watch-Dog Committee or simply Ghana ICT Watch Group. The main function of the Group will be the monitoring of ICT activities in the country, especially cyber cafĂ© operators.


When the Committee is formed, it may elect its own officers and adopt the most suitable mode of operations. Right now most cyber cafes are supposed to be located only in cities, especially in Accra and Kumasi and perhaps the other regional capitals.

As Government is making tremendous efforts to extend and expand ICT facilities to all the districts and every nook and cranny of the nation, we should not be myopic in our approach. ICT gurus should indulge in strategic thinking for the next 20 years and beyond of ICT in Ghana. If only a few dubious characters in some corners in Accra or Kumasi can cause this havoc to the technological image of Ghana now, then one can imagine what will happen if cyber cafes spread like the Video Theatres in the country.


Ghanaian ICT gurus must not wait until Ghana is entirely banished from the web before engaging in blame games. They must take note of this African proverb which says that: “If you see a stick approaching your eye, you don’t wait for the eye to be pricked before you break the stick.” This is my layman’s view. Any concerned citizen with any idea should e-mail it to me and I will put it across.


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