The President, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has indicated that the Government is resolute in creating a conducive atmosphere for the nurturing and development of the Nation’s cybersecurity sector.

He said, these are revolutionary times for the digital community in Ghana as we all seek to consolidate gains made in transforming the economy into a more digitalized one.

The President disclosed that, since he assumed office in 2017, his Government has been working to transform the country’s economy into a self-reliant one, hence their reference to a Ghana Beyond Aid, which would be driven largely by technology.

This was contained in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, as the guest speaker, at the 2019 National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) climax week, dubbed, “Demonstrating Ghana’s Cybersecurity Readiness,” at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Teshie, on Monday October 21, 2019.

He said, “We are in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is essentially a technological revolution that is significantly changing the ways in which we conduct business and interact with each other. To this end, my Government has rolled out a number of initiatives geared towards transforming how we interact with each other, do business and provide various services.”

Mr. Dery, underpinned some of the initiatives including the Digital Property Addressing System, National Identification System, Paperless Port System, e-Justice System, e-Procurement System, Mobile Money Interoperability System, Integrated Tax Application and Preparation System among other e-government initiatives.

Jon. Ambrose Dery, underscored the need to take full advantage of the opportunities all of these initiatives bring for economic growth and sustainable development. Saying that, “This notwithstanding, we acknowledge that the dependence on ICT to revolutionize our economy will not be devoid of cyber threats and attacks.

Therefore, the Government initiated the process of setting up a National Cyber Security Secretariat, which has now evolved into a the National Cyber Security Centre and it is envisioned, that it will soon become a fully-fledged Authority after the introduction of the Cybersecurity Bill. It is on the back of this, that I am delighted that the Centre has continued in its awareness activities which begun two years ago as a cyber week celebration, and has now become an event which is an integral part of our annual calendar.”

He said, these measures are necessary because, “According to the World Economic Forum, economic loss due to cybercrime is predicted to reach $3 trillion by 2020 and 74% of the world’s businesses can expect to be hacked in the coming year. Indeed examples of such attacks abound as countries around the world experience incidents of cybercrime.

For the second time in just over a year, the city of Baltimore in the United States, was hit by a ransomware attack, affecting its computer network and forcing officials to shut down a majority of its computer servers as a precaution. In July this year, Bulgaria, a country with a population of 7 million became the target of a cybercrime that led to the biggest breach in its history, compromising the systems of its National Revenue Authority and leaking the National Identification Numbers of 5 million adult citizens.

This in turn released records on revenues, tax, and social security payments dating as far back as 2007. News of such incidents are not endemic to Europe and the Americas alone. Right here on the African continent, residents in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, were left in the dark for hours after the city’s power company got attacked by a ransomware virus which prevented prepaid customers from buying electricity units, uploading invoices when making payments or accessing the City’s official power website.

We are not immune to these attacks and our reliance of ICT moving forward will leave our Critical National Information Infrastructure susceptible to attacks if precautionary measures are not instituted.”

In order to secure the country’s digital journey, Government has tasked the National Cyber Security Centre, through the Ministry of Communications, to ensure the security of Ghana’s digital space. Meanwhile, Ghana’s National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS), have been reviewed to reflect current cybersecurity developments and are consistent with international best practices.

The Minister explained that, NCPS, which covers a 5 year period, will provide the national direction towards enhancing cybersecurity in Ghana. A priority area of this Policy and Strategy is capacity Building and awareness creation which will build on what the Ministry of Communications begun about 2 and half years ago.

All these initiatives, he said needed a foundation in the form of frameworks and legislation that will act as pillars aimed at regulating our cybersecurity ecosystem.

Mr. Abrose Dery, explained that, in recognition of the need for this as a pre-requisite to protect our Critical National Information Infrastructure, and provide legal backing for the National Cybersecurity Institutional Framework, a Cybersecurity Bill has been drafted. The Bill when passed by Parliament into law will underpin the establishment of a Cyber Security Authority and Cybersecurity Fund to provide sustainable domestic funding for cybersecurity, consistent with the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.

According to him, the concept of “Demonstrating Ghana’s Cybersecurity Readiness”, which is the theme for this year’s event, seeks to bring to light the various initiatives and structures that have been implemented and established in a bid to secure the Nation’s digital journey.

Reflecting on what was previously the state of cybersecurity in Ghana, he said there has been significant development in the cybersecurity ecosystem. Adding that, “We must all contribute our quota in ensuring that our digital experience as a nation is truly secured, resilient and robust. The private sector has a huge role to play to complement efforts by the government. We are also pleased to be working with our international partners to achieve this.”

The Minister, reiterated that, the Government is resolute in creating a conducive atmosphere for the nurturing and development of the Nation’s cybersecurity sector.

Saying that, “Ghana will continue to champion cybersecurity efforts in the region and is continuously appreciative of the work of the ECOWAS Commission, the African Union Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the United States Government through Security Governance Initiative, UNICEF, the World Bank and other partners in the private sector.

We will continue to work with you and complement your efforts in cybersecurity and we believe that our mutually beneficial collaborations will contribute to cybersecurity development globally.

I implore you to continuously put cybersecurity at the core of all your efforts, to ensure that the gains we make in the respective sectors to contribute to our economic development are not left vulnerable at the hands of the cyber attackers.

I entreat you all to bring on board your expertise and continue to collaborate with us for the good of our beloved country.”

In his welcome address, the National Cyber Security Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said, “It is important to emphasize that, discussing the next steps of our cybersecurity journey will not be complete without addressing the issue of financing. Across the developed and developing world, states have established sustainable financing mechanisms to fund their cybersecurity development.”

He disclosed that, UK is currently investing about 1.9 billion pounds, starting from 2016 to 2021 to fund their national cybersecurity strategy. And Singapore, a city state with a population of about 5.8 million, allocated about USD 100 million for their Cybersecurity Research and Development alone in 2013.

Togo, he said has also established a sovereign cybersecurity fund with contributions from telecommunication service operators based on their annual revenue.

“The introduction of a sustainable mechanism for funding cybersecurity by the government, is therefore not a new phenomenon in responding to the current and anticipated threats targeting our digital economy. It is a strategic imperative, with not many options, for a country thriving on digitalization.

Whilst we do not have an option to secure our digital ecosystem than to fund such initiatives; stakeholders including advocacy groups do have the right and are encouraged to discuss and propose alternative funding models to support this government initiative,” he called.

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