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Ghana seeks assistance to develop cyberspace

By: Maclean Kwofi
Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei (2nd left) interacting with Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan after the forum.

Ghana needs support from the United States  to build a strong and resilient cybersecurity ecosystem to protect itself against any cyberattack, a Deputy Communications Minister, Mr Vincent Sowah Odotei, has said.

According to him, the country specifically needed expertise to help implement provisions in its Cybersecurity Bill expected to be passed into law by the end of the year.

Addressing participants in the US-Ghana Digital Forum on March 2 in Accra, Mr Odotei stated that the introduction of the bill was to protect the cybersecurity ecosystem  in view of the several digitalisation initiatives that government had already undertaken.

He said the government's action in introducing the draft cybersecurity bill was to fully comply with Ghana's obligations under the Malabo and Budapest Conventions.

"The country's drafted Cybersecurity Bill is similar to the cybersecurity laws of other countries including Australia, Israel, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Singapore and Togo," he said.

The deputy minister observed that Ghana had been selected to host the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Secretariat, while the free trade area represented one of the largest free trade areas in the world with about 1.2 billion people.

According to him, an important component of the initiative was the utilisation of ICT for trade, including e-commerce. He said the growing weaponisation of the cyber environment and increased attacks by state and non-state actors would threaten the initiative if stringent legislations were not put in place to properly regulate and protect Ghana's digital ecosystem.

New habits

The US Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, said it was important for both the US and Ghana to develop new habits to deal with cyber threats.

Although the tech world holds limitless possibilities, she said, malicious actors could explore the tools for negative use.

"The private sector for both countries are here today to gain a better understanding of each other’s activities and perspectives in securing the country’s cyberspace.

"Cybersecurity is a relatively new challenge that consciously requires us to develop new products to prevent attacks," she said.

She added that the US government was prepared to partner with its Ghanaian counterparts to strengthen cybersecurity measures put in place to protect the country and its citizens.

The forum

The digital forum was the maiden edition and an initiative of the American Chamber of Commerce, Ghana (AMCHAM).

On the theme: "Securing Ghana’s Cyberspace for Future Digital Growth," the forum created a platform for government agencies to update the private sector which were mainly members of the chamber on steps taken to secure the country’s cyberspace.

In her remarks, the President of the chamber, Ms Ayesha Bedwei, underscored the need for forums such as the US-Ghana Digital Forum to discuss the country's digital space.

"This forum is very timely. In Ghana, we find ourselves constantly in the digital space and we do not want to be left behind but it is important that we discuss the right policies, measures put in place to protect our data and information so that we can progress as the world progresses," she said.

She said PwC Ghana, as an organisation, took cyber security and data protection issues very seriously and that was why it had devoted $3 million to upscale the capacities of its employees over the next five years.

She said the move was to help the organisation protect itself and deliver superior service to its customers.