General News

Grumbles over Data Protection’s GH¢24k monthly rent

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Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

As some public enterprises maneuver to cut cost and make profit, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) is said to be paying a whopping GH¢24,000, the cedi equivalent of  US$3,000, as monthly rent for its current office space.

“Mr.Speaker, the Data Protection Commission is currently operating from rented premises situated on the PawPaw Street, East Legon, at a monthly rent of the cedi equivalent of US$3,000,” Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communication and Digitalisation, revealed in Parliament yesterday.

She made the revelation when the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tempane, Madam Lydia LamisiAkanvariba, asked about steps the Ministry was taking to get the DPC a permanent structure, and how much the Ministry paid for the current office location every year.

The DPC exists toprotecttheprivacyoftheindividualandpersonaldataby regulating theprocessingofpersonalinformation and checks by The Chronicle reveal that the Commission has been operating from its current office at Paw Paw Street in East Legon since 2019.

If the Commission pays GH¢24,000, as intimated by Madam Owusu-Ekuful, then it means it pays GH¢288,000 yearly.

This also means that from 2019 to 2021, the Commission has spent a whopping GH¢576,000 on the payment of rent alone, and would spend GH¢864,000 by the end of 2022.

Minister Owusu-Ekuful also noted yesterday: “Efforts have been made to secure a permanent office accommodation from public sources for the Commission by writing letters to both the Ministry of Works and Housing and the Office of the Chief of Staff. These efforts have not yielded the required positive results yet.”

It is not clear if the Commission has never had its own building since its establishment based on this statement by the Minister.

The Chronicle’s checks revealed that the Commission was established in 2012 under the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843).

If the Commission has never had a building since its establishment, it then implies that it has been renting since 2012, and indicates that it has spent massively on rent.

When asked how she intended to resolve the issue, looking at the high cost of rent, Mrs.Owusu-Ekuful responded that if the Member of Parliament knows where cheap accommodation could be accessed, she could notify the Ministry.

She, however, indicated to the House that her Ministry would be in talks with the agency in charge of providing accommodation for public institutions to secure one for the DPC.

“The Ministry will continue to have discussions with the state agencies charged with providing office accommodation for public institutions such as the DPC and is hopeful of a fruitful outcome,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Minister has asked those who have not registered their SIM cards to do by the end of July, because there would not be an extension. The SIM registration exercise commenced on October 1, 2021 and is expected to end on July 31.

According to the Minister, the exercise, when completed, was expected to reduce or eliminate fraudulent and criminal activities facilitated by mobile phones or Sim enabled devices, help the authorities ascertain the real number of valid and accurate SIMs on the mobile networks, enable operators to build better demographics of their customer base, and help them develop products and services to suit these various groupings.

It is also intended to make the National Communications Authority (NCA) attain a more accurate and credible database to regulate the industry better.

“SIM registration will enhance economic growth, as more confidence is built in the telecommunications sector, and people utilise secure devices to access mobile-based digital solutions, both private and public, and minimise mobile money fraud, promote cybersecurity and support financial inclusion,” Mrs.Owusu-Ekuful said.

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