President of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said, his government intends to establish a National Cyber Security Centre in the next few months, as other countries have already done, in order to collaborate with relevant state agencies and the private sector to oversee cyber security operations at the national level.
He said, the national identification system, the digital addressing system, e-payments, digital financial services and the various e-government initiatives in which Ghana is now taking so much pride, can be brought to a halt or undermined by cybercrime.
According to President Akufo-Addo, Cyber-security issues are now firmly national security threats, saying “Ghana cannot fully reap the digital dividends, associated with her adoption of ICT as a means of our socio-economic transformation, if the country fails to mitigate both existing and emerging cyber security threats.”
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the opening of the National Cyber-Security Week, and the inauguration of the National Cyber-Security Inter-Ministerial Advisory Council, which took place at the Accra International Conference Centre, in Accra on Monday, 23rd October, 2017.
President Nana Addo assured all present at the event that, his government is undertaking specific policy and practical intervention initiatives, including capacity building, international co-operation, judicial enforcement of cybercrime legislations, and implementation of technical standards and safeguards to combat this canker.
In view of this, the President in July this year, requested the Minister for Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, and MP for the people of Ablekuma West, to oversee the implementation of the Ghana’s National Cyber Security Policy & Strategy (NCSPS).
“This has led to our adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach, as a foundation for the effective implementation of the various cyber security activities and programmes. The National Cyber Security Technical Working Group (NCSTWG) and the National Cyber Security Inter-Ministerial Advisory Council (NCSIAC) would be the critical drivers of our effort,” he noted.
President Akufo-Addo signed the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, at the 29th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, in July this year, in demonstrating international co-operation towards addressing the challenges of cyber security.
He indicated that, government intends to get the approval of Cabinet, and seek Parliamentary approval to enable it to access the Budapest Convention,
He added that, government has again partnered with the United States government, through the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), and the European Union, through their GLACY project, to support the country’s efforts at addressing cyber security challenges.
“We will also engage with international institutions and technology partners, such as International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Google, Facebook and Microsoft, to ensure cyber safety for our citizens, especially children,” he added.
Criminal justice response to cybercrime is another area of importance, President Akufo-Addo noted, and to this end “training for our judges, prosecutors and investigators, especially on cybercrime legislations and enforcement provisions, is a priority for government.”
Government, he assured, will enforce existing legislation, as it works to review and update it, if necessary, and will empower the Data Protection Commission to ensure enforcement of the provisions of the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843).
“We also intend to improve the forensic capabilities of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and other law enforcement agencies, including the Economic & Organized Crimes Office (EOCO), to enable officers to investigate and prosecute cyber-facilitated crimes,” the President added.
“To improve our cyber security emergency response readiness, government, through the Ministry of Communications, is currently working on the establishment of a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), to protect critical national information infrastructures, and sectorial CERTs for the various sectors of the economy, based on international standards and benchmarks,” Nana Addo stressed.
That not withstanding, President Akufo-Addo said, “we have to promote a cyber-security culture among our people. In our everyday lives, we would not leave the doors to our homes or cars open, nor would we advertise to the public where we leave our prized possessions, we would never dream of exposing our children to known criminals, but, in the virtual world, we take these chances daily.”
“I have requested the Minister for Communications to engage with the Minister for Finance to ensure cyber security is captured in the 2018 budget,” according to the President.
On her part in her statement, the Communications Minister, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful added that, the Ministry has an oversight responsibility for the government’s digitization agenda and is actively working to ensure the success of the initiatives being implemented by government, including the national identification system, the national digital property addressing system and a number of e-government projects.
“We recognise that, ICTs are indispensable for development and have a cross cutting nature and are determined to do our best to enable the NPP vision of a massive transformation of the economy through technology succeed,” the Communications Minister noted.
According to her, the immediate priority of the Ministry, is to undertake a national cyber security risk assessment to identify cyber vulnerability and priority areas that require immediate and specific interventions.
Adding that, “we are working with World Bank to conduct a Cyber Security Capacity Maturity Model to assess the level of development of national cyber security efforts from the policy, regulatory, end-user, and other perspectives, in order to provide recommendations to government on how to enhance cyber security readiness.
“We will be setting up a National Computer Emergency ResponyTeam (CERT), to improve Ghana’s cyber security emergency response readiness, review the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy (NCSPS), to ensure it is compliant with international best practices and develop guidelines on cyber security for government and public-sector officials. This initiative will set the foundation for building a culture of cyber security across the public sector,” she reiterated.
Some of the speakers at the even were; the executive director of protection commission, Patricia Adusei-Poku, C.K Bruce, the CEO of Innovare, Albert Antwi-Boasiako, the National Cyber Security Advisor, Andy Akoto, Partner, KPMG, Joe Anokye, the Ag. Director General of NCA, Manuel de Almeida Pereira, prog. Manager, Council of Europe, and to name a few.
Government showed appreciation to its international partners like the Council of Europe, the US Government and the ITU for their support for Ghana’s cyber security, and also appreciated the local partners and all other stakeholders across the length and breath of the country.