President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said his government will establish a National Cyber Security Centre, as has been done in some other countries, to liaise with relevant state agencies and the private sector to oversee cyber security operations at the national level.
According to Akufo-Addo, 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.
Cyber-security issues, the President added, are now firmly national security threats, adding that “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 made this known on Monday, 23rd October, 2017, at the opening of the National Cyber-Security Week, and the inauguration of the National Cyber-Security Inter-Ministerial Advisory Council, at the Accra International Conference Centre, in Accra.
He told the gathering 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 the scourge.
It is for this reason, the President noted that, in July this year, he requested the Minister for Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, MP, to oversee the implementation of 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 said.
In demonstrating international co-operation towards addressing the challenges of cyber security, President Akufo-Addo noted that he signed the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, at the 29th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, in July this year.
Before the end of the year, he indicated that government intends to get the approval of Cabinet, and seek Parliamentary approval to enable it access the Budapest Convention.
Government, the President added, has also 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.
He continued, “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.”
Above all, President Akufo-Addo noted that “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.”
These initiatives, the President noted, require financial commitment, and assured that Government will find the money to implement them.
“I have requested the Minister for Communications to engage with the Minister for Finance to ensure cyber security is captured in the 2018 budget,” he added.