Ghana joined the world, yesterday, to commemorate this year’s World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTISD).


The purpose of WTISD is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.


The theme for WTISD 2018 was, Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for all.


The 2018 theme allowed ITU Membership and other key stakeholders to focus on the opportunities for how AI—a highly complex technology that allows computers to function like the human brain— can help accelerate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) by 2030.


WTISD-18 coincided with the second edition of the Artificial Intelligence for Social Good Global Summit at the ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


The National Communications Authority (NCA), which hosted the event in Ghana, organized a symposium on the theme: Artificial Intelligence for social good to mark the occasion.


Speakers at the symposium included Mr Kwadwo Osafo-Maafo, Head of the Cyber Security Division, NCA; Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Telecom; Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director-General, Ghana Health Service; and Mr Kamal Yakubu, Chief Executive Officer, Trotro Tractor.


The others were Mr Clatrence Blay, Deputy Head of Payment Systems, Bank of Ghana, Dr Gustav Yankson, Head, Cyber Crime Unit, Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service and Mrs Patricia Adusei Poku, Executive Director Data Protection Commission.


The speakers addressed topics such as the Role of the NCA, Role of Mobile Network Operators, Advancing Health Delivery through Artificial Intelligence, Digitizing Agriculture for Higher Productivity, AI for Financial Inclusion and Poverty Reduction, Protecting Users through Cyber Security and Ensuring the Protection of Private Data.


Delivering the keynote address to open the symposium, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications, identified several ways in which AI could be used for the social good of the people.


Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said AI could be used to enhance health delivery, especially in times of floods and epidemics control, aid the agricultural sector by providing market information to support farmers to sell their produce and provide financial services when consumer data was well analysed for targeted services to be offered to the citizens.


Furthermore, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said, the installation of traffic lights with AI infused information would also assist in determining the effective control and operations of lights during peak time.


She said AI could also assist in some of the administrative activities such as the marking of assignments to enable teachers to focus more on guiding the students.


Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, therefore, called for a solid Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure that would create a positive enabling environment to support the development and effective use of AI.


In a message delivered on his behalf, Mr Houlin Zha, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) noted that AI was taking centre stage with a lot of impact on people’s lives.


Mr Zha, therefore, pledged the commitment of ITU, as a specialized UN Agency for ICT Services and Technologies, to working with the Academia, Researchers, Industry, Administrations and Governments, UN Agencies and other stakeholders and partners to facilitate the development of AI in order derive its full benefits.


In a welcome address, Mr Joe Anokye, Director-General, NCA, noted that speed and accuracy were enhanced with the use of digital systems compared to the use of human minds and hands as far as routine and programmable activities were concerned.


Mr Anokye said Ghana, as a developing country with aspirations to make the lives of the citizens better, stood   every chance of doing better when greater awareness was created of AI. “The more people know of AI and deploy same in their various productive activities, the better it would be for us all as a people,” he emphasized.


May 17 marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union while WTISD has been observed annually on May 17 since 1969.


In November 2005, the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) called upon the United Nations General Assembly to declare May 17 as World InformationSociety Day (WISD) to focus on the importance of ICT and a wide range of issues related to Information Society. 


The General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/60/252 in March 2006, stipulating that WISD shall be observed annually on May 17.


In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference—the top policy-making body of the ITU— in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events on May 17 as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.


The updated Resolution 68 invited Member States and Sector Members to celebrate the day annually by organizing appropriate national programmes with a view to stimulating reflection and exchanges of ideas on the theme adopted by the Council; debating the various aspects of the theme with all partners in society; and formulating a report reflecting national discussions on the issues underlying the theme, to be fed back to ITU and the rest of the membership.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney, Esq.)

Created: 18 May 2018
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