The National Information Technology Agency (NITA) has advised heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to consult the Agency when engaging information technology firms to manage their data.

The Acting Director-General of NITA, Richard Okyere-Fosu, who gave the advice, said that was to allow for thorough scrutiny of such firms to ensure the “right services” were engaged to promote effective data management, reduce data loss and enhance cybersecurity.

He was speaking at a NITA Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Conference for stakeholders held via webinar in Accra.

Mr Okyere-Fosu said more often than not, heads of MDAs and MMDAs did not consult with NITA, a body tasked to regulate ICT in the country when engaging the services of IT firms, a situation that had led to some security breaches.

These breaches include the locking up of a revenue mobilisation database of a metropolitan assembly by a private IT firm, the 2017/2018 glitch of the Ghana Education Service’s Senior High School Placement System, and defacement and hacking of websites of MDAs in the past.

He said the Agency was, therefore, established to ensure that such situations were averted, especially among government agencies and organisations, for a secured data management.

“We are here to work with the MDAs and MMDAs and not against them, so they need to engage us more when seeking for services of IT firms to manage their websites and data,” Mr Okyere-Fosu said.

The conference, organised by NITA, was to solicit comments and ideas to fine-tune the ICT Standards and Policy Guidelines and to disseminate information to stakeholders and the public, concerning the progress of Regulatory initiatives, among other issues.

It was held on the theme: “Deepening Regulatory Compliance for a Successful Digitisation Agenda.”

NITA was established by Act 277 to regulate ICT in the country and currently operates under the Ministry of Communications.

Section Two of the Act mandates the Agency to ensure the provision of quality ICT, promote standards and efficiency and ensure high quality of service.

The Head of Regulatory at NITA, Kwame Baah-Acheamfuor, said the Agency was currently registering individuals and tech firms to give them certifications as part of efforts to weed out unqualified ones.

He said this initiative was to ensure that only the services of certified IT technicians, graduates, practitioners and professionals were engaged to enhance regulation and ensure consumer trust.

He, therefore, urged such persons to visit the website of the Agency and register.

The Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, reiterated Government’s commitment to ensuring that every sector of the economy was digitised, particularly through the Electronic Government (e-government) platform, to boost economic growth.

“This ICT platform will improve the efficiency of government agencies and provide services online and is broadened to include the use of ICT by the government for conducting a wide range of interactions with citizens and businesses including registration for Ghana card, birth certificate, passport, business certificates, etc,” she said.

The West Africa Regional Manager of CSquared,  Estelle Akofio-Sowah, who represented the private sector, called for a more collaborative engagement between the Ministry of Communications, NITA and IT firms to address sector problems.    

She urged the Ministry and NITA to ensure that national data was well managed to enable investors to make informed decisions.