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Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum holds 1st in-country session in Accra

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The 9th edition, which is also the first in-country session of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) has taken place in Accra.

The event was held at the Holiday Inn, from 25th -26th April 2022, under the theme, ‘Towards a digitally inclusive and rights respecting Ghana.’

The event sponsored by Paradigm Initiative (PIN) partnered with Inclusive Tech Group and the Internet Society Ghana Chapter and created a platform for developing action plans for enhancing digital rights and inclusion in Ghana and increasing networks and collaborations on digital rights and inclusion.

Speaking at the forum, Miss Nnenna Paul-Ugochukwu, the Chief Operating Officer at Paradigm Initiative, noted that DRIF is an important platform where conversations on digital policy in Africa are shaped, policy directions debated and partnerships forged for action.

She said COVID-19 has taught a lesson that the internet is not a luxury but a necessity. Miss Nenna reiterated PIN’s commitment to ensure that rights enjoyed offline are equally enjoyed online by everyone.

Dr. Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah, a panelist, said the problems faced by the marginalised in the physical space have been directly transferred to the digital space creating hindrances for them. He called for collective efforts to address the special needs of the marginalised and ensure their safety in the digital space.

Prof. Kester Quist-Aphetsi, a global Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence expert, and also Dean at the Ghana Communications Technology University, advised users of the internet to come to terms with the fact that the internet does not guarantee privacy, and that privacy issues will no longer have a place in the world of artificial intelligence where machines make decisions instead of humans.

Executive Director of Inclusive Tech Group, Dr. Millicent Agangiba said, as Ghana embarks on a digitalisation drive, it is important to ensure that no one is left behind. She called for support to ensure that the marginalised have access to digital tools and technologies with prerequisite ICT literacy to compete fairly in the digital society.

“We want Ghana to become a digital economy but while doing that, we should ensure that everybody is included, especially the marginalised; talk of people in the rural communities, talk of persons with disabilities who are mostly put in the poverty bracket. We have to envisage what is going to happen to them when we go fully digital”, she adds.

Challenges relating to connectivity and access to information in Ghana such as the high cost of data, lack of stable electricity, and internet connectivity were also discussed.

Mr. Francis Amaning, the President of Internet Society Ghana, indicated that Internet connectivity is crucial to harness the full benefit of digitalisation.

The forum intends to put together a comprehensive report that captures the gaps, boundaries, and direction as to what Ghana needs to do as a nation that respects the rights of all, including persons with disabilities and would be shared with relevant stakeholders and implementing bodies for action.

DRIF22 gathered Ghana’s digital rights and digital inclusion community to interrogate ways to shape a digital rights-respecting country.

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