Deputy Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ama Pomaa Boateng, has revealed that cyber-attacks have far-reaching implication on the socio-economic development of countries globally.
Describing cybercrime as a “trans-border issue”, she indicated that countries will require an interoperable system, legislations and criminal justice procedures to better cooperate and respond to its issues. Ms Boateng noted that this can be achieved through incident reporting, information sharing, investigations and prosecutions of cyber cases.
Speaking at the African Union—Global Forum on Cyber Expertise’s (AU-GFCE), Africa Cyber Experts (ACE) Community event, on behalf of the sector minister, Mrs Ursual Owusu-Ekuful, Ms Boateng revealed that the country is prepared to support, collaborate and learn from other African states to secure the continent’s digital ecosystem. Subsequently, she urged other African countries yet to ratify the Malabo Convention to do so in order to make the convention operable.
“Cyber-attacks have serious implications on socio-economic development and the national security of our countries. Many of our citizens have 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… A single cyber security incident can have global reach and devastating effects on governments, businesses and individuals”.Ama Pomaa Boateng
Recognizing the boundless nature of cybercrimes, the deputy minister confirmed government desire to cooperate with its African partners and stakeholders to further develop capacity through joint initiatives such as the ACE Community meeting.
On his part, the Acting Director-General of Ghana’s Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, expressed that the meeting is crucial to the continent, and hence requires the support of all stakeholders. He intimated that Ghana is seen as a model in terms of its structures and systems being implemented.
Dr Antwi-Boasiako revealed that among other things, Ghana has recently passed the cyber-security Act and also setup a cyber-security institution, which serves as models for other African countries who are looking to implement.
“Therefore, they came here, we are more than 150 experts across the continent gathered here, also to learn from what we are doing; it is information sharing and experience sharing as well. We are happy to play this central role [in] working with our partners. Ghana has been chosen because of the efforts we made within the last few years and I think we should look forward and really bring Africans together. This is no different from what Kwame Nkrumah started doing. I think we are on course and we need the citizens on board to support this direction”.Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako
Relevance of cyber-security
Dr Antwi-Boasiako expressed optimism that the ACE Community meeting will achieve its expectations by identifying the continent’s capacity building needs. He equally recommended the inclusion of African private sector cyber-security actors in subsequent gatherings to promote public-private sector development for continental capacity building programmes.
“I believe experts gathered here will also come out with innovative ways of deploying capacity building initiatives, taking into consideration our specific developmental needs and the cyber-context of our respective countries”.Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako
The Head of Economic Integration-African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere, speaking at the meeting emphasized the relevance of cyber-capacity and cyber-security in a digital world. She noted that despite the fact that increased use of the Internet creates new opportunities for innovation and development, it equally opens up opportunities for criminals to commit acts of cybercrime on a large scale.
Dr. Nyirenda-Jere explained that in line with its mandate as the AU’s development agency, charged with implementing Africa’s priority frameworks and programmes, AUDA-NEPAD developed a cyber-security assessment framework based on the Malabo Convention.
“We considered this to be significant, not only because Cybersecurity is one of the flagship programmes of Agenda 2063, but also because we understood the need to develop tailored guidelines and interventions for our member-states. AUDA-NEPAD has therefore undertaken assessments in 10 countries using this framework and we intend, with the support of partners and member-states, to continue with these assessments”.Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere