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Ghana to pass Cybersecurity Bill this year - Communications Minister

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
Minister for Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful
Minister for Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The Ministry of Communications through the National Cyber Security Centre has drafted a Cybersecurity Bill to establish a regulatory framework for Ghana’s cybersecurity development, consistent with current trends and best practices across the world.

The bill which is currently before cabinet for consideration, is expected to be passed this year by parliament.

In a speech read on behalf of the Minister for Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful at the formal opening of the 2020 National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and the launch of the Child Online Protection (COP) Portal in Accra on Thursday, October 1, 2020,  she expressed the hope that the passing of the cybersecurity bill would help to ensure the safety of the country’s cyber space.

She said “our work on cybersecurity at the domestic level has won admiration and commendation from the international community,” adding that “the Council of Europe has recognized Ghana as the hub for cybercrime capacity building in the English-speaking ECOWAS region.”

According to her, the World Bank has praised Ghana’s formative developments in cybersecurity and has provided support to consolidate the country’s modest gains.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful noted that “Ghana has made great strides in contributing to global response to cybercrimes and we will continue to do so.”

Background of NCSAM

This year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was on the theme: “Cybersecurity in the Era of COVID-19”.

The month-long observation will be conducted in a hybrid format comprising physical engagements (under strict COVID-19 protocols) and the use of virtual platforms including livestream on NCSAMTV, Facebook, YouTube and updated across various social media pages such as Instagram and Twitter.

The event is meant to educate children, the public, businesses and government stakeholders on cyber hygiene best practices, consistent with the Safer Digital Ghana campaign.

Ghana’s Achievements

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said in June this year, Ghana was nominated to serve on the Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), explaining that “Ghana’s nomination to serve on the IAC of the GIFCT is another avenue to continue its sub-regional leadership role in improving cybersecurity across the globe.”

According to her, the country has also participated in a number of United Nations consultative processes on cybersecurity.

For his part, the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr Antwi-Bosiako, said to facilitate international cooperation, Ghana has acceded to and ratified the Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention and the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection also known as the Malabo Convention, hence becoming the third country on the African continent to ratify both conventions.

“Already, the Government of Ghana has been in partnership with the United States Government through the Security Governance Initiative (SGI) and collaborated with the Council of Europe to implement various capacity building initiatives in the fight against cybercrime and to improve Ghana’s cybersecurity,” he explained.

He said although efforts at the Government and policy level are important, we do not undervalue the need to also engage and empower citizens to ensure that efforts are being put in place to create awareness among our citizens who are the ultimate beneficiary of the work of the Centre.

That, Dr Antwi-Bosiako, said the Ministry of Communications through the NCSC launched a five-year National Cybersecurity Awareness Programme dubbed “A Safer Digital Ghana” to create awareness on cybercrime and cybersecurity among Children, the Public, Businesses and Government.

He explained that in 2019 alone, this event (A Safer Digital Ghana) saw us organise) a regional sensitisation programme across all the 16 regions, where about 40,000 senior high school students were trained.

This feat, he noted, was achieved through our engagements with UNICEF, which has been one of our important and closest partners on this journey.