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Business News of Friday, 19 June 2015

Source: B&FT

ICT sector under-funded

Deputy Minister of Communications Edward Ato Sarpong has disclosed that efforts of the ministry to put in place a well-structured ICT infrastructure that will push the country’s growth agenda is constrained due to inadequate funding to the sector.

He has therefore called for an increase in budgetary allocation to the ICT sector, and increased investments at both the public and private levels to help the extensive deployment of ICT in all facets of the economy toward that cause.

He told the B&FT on the sidelines of the fourth edition of ISACA's annual IT conference dubbed IT Audit, Information Security and Risks Insight 2015 in Accra that IT is major tool for economic development, which when extensively leveraged will enhance business productivity and bridge the gap between systems.

"The issue of funding to support ICT-based programmes remains a major challenge because money allocated from the budget to the sector is inadequate.

"We need to increase investments at both the public and private levels to ensure that we have a well-structured IT infrastructure to drive the nation's development," he said.

Mr. Sarpong said increased resource allocation to the ICT sector will help to secure the country's cyber space, enhance business productivity and bridge the gap between systems

"We need to pool resources to train the requisite skills to help secure the country's cyber space; ICT goes beyond the mobile phone, which is just a small part.

"Government has recognised this potential; that is why it has rolled out policies and regulations to ensure ICT penetration in under-served and remote areas," he said.

Mr. Sarpong called on sector players to augment government's efforts to invest in key infrastructure that will make ICT flourish, as budget allocations to push the sector are inadequate.

The three-day conference pooled together seasoned IT professionals to discuss limitations and opportunities in the use of IT to improve governance efficiency in both private and public organisations.

Participants also deliberated on business information governance approach to fraud, the future of mobile fraud prevention, and how to guard against other IT-related risks -- including the recent surge in hacking and related cyber-crimes.

He said the need for increased investment is even more critical given the recent surge in cyber-related crimes, which must serve as a wake-up call for government and related businesses in the sector to collaborate so as to secure the country's cyber space.

"As a country, we need to think holistically and look at prudent IT interventions that will cushion the country against the surge in cyber-related crimes.

"This will require increased budgetary allocation and increased investments from private sector actors; ICT is an important tool for economic transformation as it enhances business profitability and bridges the gap between systems.

Board chairman of the Ghana Audit Service, Eric Yankah, backed the call for increased investments especially in the area of cyber security: "The state must invest in cyber security and government must budget for capacity building in the sector.

"For instance, hacking can serve both good and bad purposes: so given the increase in hacking cases, we can train hackers for the positive use of hacking as a counter-measure."

Byran Ofoegbu, Major Accounts Manager of Check Point Technologies, partner of the conference, reiterated the need for awareness-creation to adequately prepare the country for the 'Internet-of-things' era.

"ICT is becoming more complex, with associated risks; data must be secure and reliable -- and for that matter, businesses must strive to secure their systems and working environments, especially from hackers.

"We chose to partner ISACA over the years because we want to increase awareness about the significance of ICT to socio-economic development," he said.