16 years ago, an Internet Community from Ghana connected West Africa to the Internet and transferred this knowledge to other countries in Africa. Sadly, this community has been ignored over the years and no wonder Ghana has lost its presence on the global internet space with an internet penetration rate lower than the average on the African continent.
The President of Internet Society, Ghana Chapter (ISOCgh) Mr. Daniel Obuobi in a welcome address recounted how Internet Technology workshop had started in 1993 and since then to 2000 eight countries have held such workshops. The localizing of such workshops became more important so as to reduce the cost of travels and increase participation as well as build capacity on the continent. The results, was the birth of African Network Operators Group (AfNOG) with Internet Society (ISOC) facilitating and providing support. In this same regard, the ISOCgh accepted the challenge of localizing AfNOG EO track (Unix System Administration) home. This got strong approval from ISOC and the University of Cape Coast opted to facilitate the process by hosting the first ever AfNOG EO localization workshop/conference.
To feather extend the localization drive the Ghana Network Operators Group (ghNOG) was born on the 31st day of July, 2009 at the University of Cape Coast for which I am more than excited to be part of. The ghNOG is a “forum for the exchange of technical information to ensure stability of the Internet Services in Ghana” with the aim of creating a community for sharing experiences and technical challenges on setting up, building and running IP networks in Ghana.
The event begun on 27th July with participants from government, education, industry and Non-governmental organization been taken through Unix System Administration using the Free BSD (ghNOG-1). Topics covered included; Unix concepts, FreeBSD installation, DNS concepts, configurations and delegations, Apache and Virtual Hosts, Email systems using exim, System Log Management and Backups. The climax of the event was the outdooring ceremony of the new baby ghNOG. The President of ISOCgh hoped to see a vibrant ghNOG working closely with ISOC Ghana to organize technical workshops, conferences and annual meeting at various venues across the country to build capacity.
Mr. Michuki Mwangi, Senior Education Manger, ISOC in a short message was excited to be part because one Ghana was close to his heart and also he attended an AfNOG training that was organized in Ghana in 2001 which marked the start of this career and has made him who he is today. As he puts it “to give back to the community that help changed me”. Mr. Michuki was an instructor at the workshop. Sharing with the audience a story on Skunkworks in his home country Kenya. Skunkworks is mailing list of young and upcoming engineers who with little or no resources are helping solve problems, making great innovation and helping local authorities to know where to go for help. “Its not perfect but has filled a void” Michuki said. He recommended that, Ghana develop these communities along a common line that bring the youth, young engineers together to harness their talent since it was difficult to get find such talents in our part of the world in a group.
AfNOG Convener and board member of ICANN, Prof. Nii Quaynor in his message applauded the development of internet operators groups which in May 2000 gave birth to AfNOG in Cape Town South Africa. At the 10th anniversary of AfNOG in Cairo, Egypt in May 2009, the role of NOG’s became even more apparent and important and as he noted “the growth of the internet network simply demanded more technical capacity of operators who had to coordinate and communicate better”.
The Internet Technical Community through ghNOG will deliver;
- ghNIC domain name registry,
- W3C office,
- AfrNIC training office and more… he added.
The two key success factors Prof. Quaynor noted were; extent of engagement of the community and policy environments. One interesting question he asked was the “e-Readiness of our Judiciary to handle IT related cases at IT speeds” an experience his own company Network Computer Systems (NCS) had suffered from.
“the Internet Technical Community is our only weapon to prevent the digital divide”
Concluding his speech, he wished ghNOG and its trainers and trainees to be missionaries/ revolutionaries who will champion internet development and selflessly serve their communities. “Ghana deserves an Internet renaissance” he added.
In the keynote address by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Communication Hon. Gideon Quarcoo, commended ISOCgh for its work in bringing to the forefront the importance of the Internet as an indispensable tool that we can use to accelerate the socio-economic development of the country and creating a forum for the exchange of technical information, sharing of experience and capacity-building for the industry given the constraints. The Minister called on all the internet fraternity to join hands with Government in addressing the security threats confronting the development of the Internet in general. He noted that in the area of legislation, the Ghana’s Electronic Transactions Act, 2008 (Act 772) which among others, will help develop a safe, secure and effective environment for the conduct of electronic transactions.
He charged the ghNOG to complement Government’s efforts and provide practical and meaningful measure that can help control the menace of security. The Ministry of Communication has developed a comprehensive e-security policy that has identified eleven priority areas to secure the country’s systems, infrastructure and information he added. A copy of which he is presenting to ghNOG for study and guidance in its operations. He also mentioned an e-Security Policy document which was part of the Ministry’s arrangement for the establishment of a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). He again noted that the Ministry was enjoying goodwill from Industry and this will enable it establish a governing Board for the Internet Registry and facilitate multi-stakeholder participation in the management of Ghana’s domain name space.
“Government is also working to reduce the cost of bandwidth to promote the growth of the industry” he added.
He stated “Let us collectively strive first and foremost, to protect the internet and build confidence in its usage. There is so much expectation out there, and we dare not fail in our endeavour”
The Ghana Network Operators Group (ghNOG) was then formally declared duly launched by the Hon. Deputy Ministry. And promised the Ministry’s and Governments support and cooperation to the community at all times.
The board for ghNOG was inaugurate and were made of 6 members with Mr. Ernest Brown as interim Convener.
Presentation sessions were organized;
- Mr. Ayitey Bully, Technical coordinator, AfrNOG presented on the Role of NOGs in National Development.
- Prof. Dakubu, GARNET, UG presented on Roles of NRENS in National Development.
- Prof. Nii Quaynor, Convener, AfNOG presentation was on IGF: A Multi-stakeholder Process
- Towards an Improved National Internet Infrastructure: Prospects & Challenges -by Ezer Yeboah-Boateng (for GISPA)
- Mr. Issah Yahaya Director, Ministry of Communication presented on New ICT Initiative for Accelerated Development
- Presentation on ccTLD as a Backbone to Information Society was by Eric Akumiah, GM, Africa Top Level domain organization
ghNOG will be have a series of training workshops in the months details of which will be had available on the site.