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We’re committed to making cyberspace secure - Minister

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Participants in the meeting
Participants in the meeting

The government has pledged its commitment to make the country’s cyberspace secure and resilient for a sustained digital transformation.

“The government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation (MoCD), is working closely with other relevant ministries and agencies, international partners and private sector stakeholders and it is committed in its efforts to ensure that the various digitalisation interventions that are rolled out are secure,” the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said.

In a speech read on her behalf at the opening of the maiden meeting of the African Union (AU) - Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) Africa Cyber Experts (ACE) Community in Accra last Wednesday, she said: “Ghana stands ready to support, collaborate and, most importantly, learn from other African states as we work together to secure Africa’s digital ecosystem.”

She explained that cyber attacks had serious implications on socio-economic development and the national security of countries, such that many of the citizens had experienced cyber security incidents, including online fraud, online blackmail, online impersonation and identity theft, publication of non-consensual intimate images, unauthorised access, social engineering scams, hacking into protected systems and other cyber security related breaches.

“We appreciate that a single cyber security incident can have global reach and devastating effects on governments, businesses and individuals,” she said.

Meeting

The two-day event, held on the theme “Setting the Scene for Cyber security Status in Africa”, seeks to establish the ACE community as a continental cyber expert group to support cyber security capacity building on the continent.

It brought together 65 experts in the cyber security sector from 31 countries to discuss and generate the much-needed ideas and innovation towards improving the cyber resilience of the African continent.

The 31 countries are Mauritania, Benin, Spain, Serbia, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon and Sierra Leone.

Others are the Republic of Congo, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Togo, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Somalia.

The rest are The Gambia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Morocco, Niger, The Sahrawi Arab Republic, Algeria, Lesotho, Senegal, Cote d’lvoire, Guinea-Bissau and South Africa.

Capacity building

According to the minister, domestic cyber resilience was much dependent on strong international collaboration arrangements, and Ghana’s membership of global institutions such as the GFCE was very critical for capacity-building efforts on the continent.

She described the meeting as a timely one which would contribute to the ongoing capacity-building activities planned to improve the domestic, regional and global response to cybercrimes.

“In view of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), our continent needs directions in cyber security and it is our collective responsibility to increase awareness and capacity building among member states,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said.

The acting Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said the AU’s ‘Agenda 2063’ for transforming Africa identified cyber security as a key priority to ensure that emerging technologies were used for the benefit of African individuals, institutions and nation-states and guarantee data protection and safety online.

The project, he said, was guided by the Malabo Convention, which was adopted in June 2014, and noted, however, that only about 10 countries, Ghana inclusive, had so far ratified the convention, out of the about 55 AU member states.

“There is the need to bring together African cyber security experts to work closely with the government to promote and strengthen capacity building through international collaboration and ultimately improve our national cyber response and resilience,” he said.