– Dr. Antwi-Boasiako

Cybersecurity is not a technological problem; but in many respects, when it comes to child online protection, it is a societal problem. This was said by the Ag. Director-General Of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, at the maiden Child Online Protection (COP) COP Development Partners’ Forum held in Accra on Wednesday, 30th March 2022.

“We need to investigate further to see how societal interventions can help to address child online issues, whilst we equip law enforcement agents to prosecute such cases”, he added.

Dr. Antwi-Boasiako added that, the protection of children who are among the vulnerable in society, is at the forefront of national cybersecurity efforts and the CSA is aware of its responsibilities to work closely with all relevant ministries, partner agencies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to make children truly safe. The Cybersecurity Act 2020 (Act 1038), the revised National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, and Ghana’s Child Online Protection Framework are critical national documents which underpin Ghana’s COP development programmes, he indicated.

A representative from UNICEF, Madam Miho Yoshikawa told the gathering that Ghana has made significant achievements in the area of child online protection, and that one of the key achievements made by Ghana recently is the passage of the Cybersecurity Act in 2020, which includes a provision on child online protection. She urged the partners to support Ghana and pledged UNICEF’s support for Ghana to strengthen systems to ensure that children are protected online.

The Ag. Director, Department of Children, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Mrs. Florence Ayisi Quartey, said, “Children need to know that there are consequences of their behaviours online”. She further urged all stakeholders and partner agencies to work together to protect them wherever they are.

Madam Afua Brown-Eyeson, Head of the Child Online Protection (COP) Division of the CSA, explained that child online abuse in Ghana was on the increase and hence partnerships were needed to protect children. She made reference to a 2017 UNICEF report where 3 out of 10 children interviewed said they had seen bothersome contents online, 2 out of 10 children said they had met someone in person whom they got to know initially online. As a follow-up on that survey, a recent study by the CSA conducted in February 2022 indicated that, 2331 out of 3600 school children interviewed had received sexual content online while a similar number had met internet strangers physical. 1418 had experienced romance scams, 862 had been scammed and required to provide sex. Furthermore, 830 students admitted posting sexual content and material to someone online, and 769 indicated that they had been cyberbullied.

The COP Development Partners Forum was organized to engage with development partners and relevant stakeholders for inspiring deliberations on how to improve children and young people’s online experience. It was also to attain support for the development and implementation of Child Online protection projects and initiatives. Partners that participated in the event included the African Development Bank (AfDB), Ecobank, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, FBI, GNPC, High Commission of Britain, Embassy of Israel and Embassy of Switzerland.