Representatives from over 30 Ghanaian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have appealed to the government to prioritise and increase investment for improving internet penetration and access in the country.
The group of CSO representatives made the call on Monday during a capacity building workshop on internet freedom in Ghana held in Accra. The workshop, which was aimed at increasing the knowledge and awareness of CSOs on internet freedom and governance issues, was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) with support from the UK-based Global Partners and Associates (GPA).
Opening the workshop, Deputy Executive Director of the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, said increasing internet penetration and creating conditions that will help make the internet open and accessible, should be a priority to the government.
“The internet has become the most influential driver of global development. It has become the most powerful tool that facilitates dialogue and engagement among citizens, and helps engender citizens’ participation in governance discourses in a way that nurtures a culture of social accountability. Access to the internet by a large section of the Ghanaian population should thus be seen as a prerequisite for Ghana’s development,” he stated.
Highlights of the findings of a mapping study conducted as part of the MFWA’s internet freedom project indicated that internet penetration in Ghana was still below 20 percent. This means over 80 percent of Ghanaians are yet to have access to the internet.
The mapping report also highlighted the need for a much stronger civil society involvement in internet policy discussions and debates in Ghana. It further called for increased public education on internet policy and governance issues in order to harness public support for an imporved internet environment in Ghana.
As part of the workshop, a Civil Society Coalition on Internet Freedom in Ghana was formed with 22 CSOs as the initial members.
The coalition, which is being co-ordinated by the MFWA, is intended to serve as a platform for increasing CSO-government engagements on internet policy issues. The group will also initiate CSO-led policy dialogues and advocacy for enhancing internet freedom in Ghana.