As internet penetration has deepened over the last decade, so too have cyber security concerns. Home-grown ‘Sakawa boys’ employ advance fee fraud, phishing, electronic theft and other tactics to defraud Ghanaians and foreigners alike, while groups from further afield have targeted the Ghanaian state e.g. Turkish group Alsancak Tim, which was able to hijack 11 Ghanaian government websites in 2015 and Kapustkiy of the Powerful Greek Army group, which hacked into the Ghana High Commission in India in 2016. In an attempt to protect internet users in the country, Ghana has adopted a Cyber Security Policy and Strategy. The policy was approved by the cabinet last year and has now been adopted by parliament.
Threats from cyber security will remain prominent as internet penetration grows and smart devices proliferate. Ideally, this policy will stimulate interest in the business side of digital technology in Ghana and attenuate risks for any company seeking to enter the market. It will also create opportunities for companies to partner with the various implementing agencies, particularly when it comes to data collection and collation as this is one of the major gaps in the digital technology sphere in Ghana.
As with many policies launched in Ghana, the key to the success lies in the capacity building of the relevant stakeholders and its implementation. The Electronic Transaction Act of 2008 outlined some of the legal framework for prosecuting those found guilty of cyber-crime but the prosecuting agencies were not conversant enough with the technology to understand the laid-out provisions.
Finally, the rapid adoption of this policy under the new parliament points to a degree of policy continuity despite the 2017 change in government and polarised party political traditions.
Written by Analyst Kobi Annan (Accra) with input from Managing Partner Nana Adu Ampofo (London).
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