Ghana’s Minister for Communications Ursula Owusu-Ekuful advised African Governments to put the requisite foundation in place to secure the current digitalization efforts on the continent, during her interventions at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, ABC News can report.
Delivering her address during the session on cybersecurity, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful touched on the need for national policies and strategies on cybersecurity, cybersecurity legislation, capacity building, international cooperation and guaranteed funding for cybersecurity as indispensable for the protection of the continent’s digital ecosystem.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) covering 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over $3.4 trillion is expected to increase in Intra-African trade to about 52% by 2022. The AfCFTA will be facilitated by digitalisation as e-commerce transactions across Africa are estimated to reach about 75 billion dollars by 2025. This is a key component of the expected dividends from the AfCFTA. However, this also means there will be a consequential rise in cybercrime on the African continent if efforts are not made to protect the digital ecosystem now.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful therefore suggested that, Africa needs to institute robust measures now to harness the benefits of existing and emerging digital technologies and stated that “Digitisation should be a priority for the economic development of the African continent but it must be done without compromising the integrity and privacy of our valuable data and the cybersecurity of our states”. The Minister further stated that utilizing technology for economic development will face resistance if existing systems become susceptible to cyber-attacks, which will also lead to significant losses to the continent’s economy.
She was concerned that despite the adoption of the Malabo Convention in 2014, only five African countries have so far ratified this crucial treaty. Ghana has ratified both the Malabo Convention and the Budapest Convention. Only Mauritius, Senegal and Ghana have done so. She urged African Governments to ratify these international instruments as a matter of urgency to facilitate effective international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime since it is a borderless crime and its effective response requires collaboration among all countries.
she informed the audience that not only is Ghana in the process of completing her cybersecurity legal and regulatory framework, we have established computer emergency response centers both at the national level and in critical sectors such as telecommunications and finance and set up the national cybersecurity Centre with its technical working group. We need to build our capacity in this area in view of the critical skills gap on the continent. We have also shared our experiences within the Ecowas region and stand ready to cooperate with and learn from others.
In recognition of Ghana’s commitment to cybersecurity development both domestically and internationally, the World Economic Forum has indicated its preparedness to foster deeper collaboration with Ghana. In this regard, the Cybersecurity Centre of the World Economic Forum will engage with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of the Ministry of Communications on initiatives to promote cybersecurity in the region especially in the area of public-private cooperation on cybersecurity.
The Minister was accompanied by the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako and the Chief Director of the Ministry of Communications, Mrs. Magdalene Apenteng.
The World Economic Forum on Africa aims to tackle global issues affecting Africa by focusing on how to scale up the transformation of regional architecture related to innovation, cooperation, growth and stability. Under the theme, Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa attracted more than 1,000 regional and global leaders from politics, business, civil society and academia to shape regional and industry agendas in the year ahead.