The Minister of Communications and Digitization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has stressed the importance of security in the country’s digitization agenda.
“We cannot roll out this digital infrastructure without looking at securing our data. So, it’s absolutely critical that we look at cybersecurity – and we’re building our own capacity in order to protect the infrastructure, applications and services we’re putting in place,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful stated.
She made these remarks during the 2023 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Morocco, which were centred on the theme ‘Building the framework for an inclusive digital future’.
The CSA has already begun the licence and accreditation process – since 1 March 2023 – as part of its mandate to introduce sanity into the cybersecurity sector, setting 30 September 2023 as the deadline for cybersecurity service providers, cybersecurity establishments and cybersecurity professionals to obtain the necessary licences and accreditations.
This regulatory regime is designed to ensure that licenced and accredited entities are legally empowered to engage in legitimate business, pursuant to Sections 57 and 58 of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038).
“And we’re absolutely keen on building our own capacity in cybersecurity…we’re excited about that because we are going to begin having the conversations about how we’re going to build the capacity of those of us in the global South to wean ourselves from dependence on expensive consultants to manage our digital infrastructure,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful stated during a panel discussion on the topic ‘Getting the foundation right for digital transformation’.
Deepening digital inclusion
The Minister of Communication and Digitalisation also urged increased collaboration to enhance digital inclusion, thereby unlocking the full potential for global digital economic growth.
She emphasised that this endeavour demands the collective efforts of all stakeholders in the digital economy, in order to achieve the digital prosperity aspired to by the meeting.
“In Ghana, we’ve made a deliberate attempt, we’re making more deliberate attempts to include women…we have several programmes – from the high schools, the primary school level, right up to the working population – to include them. We’ve taken our girls in ICT programmes to another level; and they are actively encouraging young people, 9 – 16-years old, to explore the benefits of digital technology,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful told the panel.
She continued: “We take it to them where they are, and have trained 5,000 every year in the most remote parts of the country.
And in addition to that, we have an active mentorship programme whereby women in technology go and spend a day with these girls and encourage them, motivate them and share their experiences with them.
“Beyond that, those who had never seen a computer before are now building their own websites and simple games; and have moved from aspiring to be in the traditional professions to being software engineers, robotics engineers and all of that. It’s quite exciting that after just a week’s instruction we’ve changed their whole worldview,” she added.
Axel van Trotsenberg, Senior Managing Director-World Bank, shared the Ghanaian minister’s sentiments.
He emphasised the urgent need to promptly establish affordable and high-speed connectivity in undeserved communities around the world.
“About 2.7 billion people have no access to the Internet. That means, basically, about 35% of the world population. And I therefore think it is important to say if we want to avoid countries falling behind and what we call the ‘digital divide’, we have to deal with digitization,” Trotsenberg stated.
Digital economy offers great opportunities
Contributing to the conversation, Ghita Mezzour, Minister of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform, Morocco, expressed that enhancing digital access among citizens will open up greater opportunities.
“So, this is a huge opportunity for our young people. The start-up ecosystem in Morocco is also obviously getting bigger and bigger, and that creates a lot of opportunities. The goal is to retrain 15,000 young people in digital skills, so that they can integrate this new digital ecosystem and take advantage of its economic opportunities.
“This offers a lot of jobs, a lot of opportunities for young people. Women who can work remotely as well from their homes, they can serve clients from all over the world. So, digital is really a way to empower our young, our women, for new opportunities,” said Mezzour.