Ghana Launches the National Assesmsnt of Internet Universality Indicators

The national assessment process of UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators was launched in Ghana via the first meeting of national Multistakeholder Advisory Board (MAB) on 10 July 2020.
The launch gathered about 40 leading experts and stakeholders representing various sectors including governments, regulatory and policymaking bodies, academic, technical community, private sector, media organizations and civil society.

The Representative of UNESCO to Ghana, Mr. Abdourahamane DIALLO opened the event by thanking the Government of Ghana, the Ministry of Communications and its agency, the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC) for their support in organizing such an event especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over a year ago, the Ministry endorsed the conduct of this exercise in the country, little did we know that the Internet which has become an integral part of our lives will be even more indispensable in the current circumstances ” said Mr. Diallo. He also pointed out the importance of MAB in the implementation of the assessment in Ghana to guide the multi-stakeholder process with their varied expert recommendations to help reinforce the quality, legitimacy and transparency of this national assessment exercise”.

Ms Xianhong Hu, UNESCO project focal point for Internet Universality, stressed the Internet Universality indicators as a holistic approach for individual countries to operationalize the four ROAM principles (Rights, Openness, Accessibility to all, and Multistakeholder participation) and stressed the need to achieve evidence-based policy reform and digital governance. Ms Hu reiterated the crucial role of the newly created MAB being responsible for overseeing the research process and formulating strong and relevant policy recommendations through a truly inclusive and multi-stakeholder manner.

The national MAB members are leading experts representing different groups and government branches, including GIFEC, the Ghana Internet Service Providers Association, the Internet Society Ghana Chapter, Ghana Statistical Service, National Communications Authority, the Ghanian National Commission for UNESCO, the Ghana Journalist Association, the Ministry of Education, the National Cyber Security Secretariat, the University of Ghana, Penplusbyte, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiatives, the Ministry of Information as well as the Information for All Programme (IFAP)of UNESCO.

Mr Abraham Kofi Asante, the MAB Chair, who is also the Administrator ofGIFEC and Chairperson of the National IFAP Committee in Ghana, further outlined the role of the MAB and highlighted the urgent need to conduct the Internet Universality indicators assessment to address the gaps in Ghana’s digital environment and those inherent Internet-related challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her remarks, Ms. Dorothy Gordon, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Council of IFAP commended Ghana for engaging in this exercise and pointed out that this voluntary national assessment presents Ghana an opportunity to reflect and fashion out policies to help shed light on shortcomings and achievements of the national Internet and improve Ghana’s overall digital environment to foster innovation and digital transformation for all the stakeholders. Ms Gordon expressed appreciation of the diverse and inclusive composition of the MAB and urged members to actively support researchers by providing information from their respective organizations.

In November 2015, UNESCO’s 38th General Conference marked a milestone and endorsed its updated position of Internet Universality, embracing four ROAM principles: an acronym for Rights, Openness, Accessibility to all, and Multistakeholder participation. UNESCO recognizes these four “pillars” underpin the growth and evolution of the Internet, fundamental to the development of the Internet, in ways that are conducive to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Internet Universality ROAM-X Indicators framework is a set of 303 indicators that aim to assess how well national stakeholders, including governments, companies, and civil society perform in adhering to the ROAM principles of Rights, Openness, Accessibility, and Multi-stakeholder participation. It also includes 79 cross-cutting Indicators (category X) concerning gender and the needs of children and young people, sustainable development, trust and security, and legal and ethical aspects of the Internet.

Developed over a three-year process of global and inclusive consultations with stakeholders, the indicators were endorsed for voluntary implementation in November 2018 by the 31st Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). Since then, UNESCO has been working with stakeholders and encouraging more countries to implement national assessments of Internet development using the Indicators.

More information on the Internet Universality Indicators project, along with the full version of Internet Universality indicators in English, French and Spanish, is available at: https://en.unesco.org/internetuniversality.

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