The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation and MP for Ablekuma West, Hon. Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said that online terrorist activities are a concern for every nation and Ghana is no exception.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said this at the opening ceremony of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT)/ Tech against Terrorism (TaT) Workshop on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism Online in Accra on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

According to her, countries are now at war with hackers online, critical data is being stolen, and many institutions are facing ransomware attacks on a daily basis. In addition to these, she said, “violent extremists and terrorism actors are exploiting the various vulnerabilities of the internet and networks to engage in acts that seek to undermine personal and civil liberties”.

Delivering the keynote address on the occasion, the Minister for National Security, Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah, said the Ministry of National Security, working closely with the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation has since the beginning of the year warned of the heightened threat of terrorism and as such, has deployed a number of measures to safeguard the country from terrorists’ infiltration. He thus assured Ghanaians that the country's security architecture remains on high alert to safeguard the country's cyber space particularly in the wake of government's digitalisation agenda.

In a welcome address, the Ag. Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, indicated that, “with the increasing dependency on networks and digital systems for socio-economic developments, malicious actors including terrorist groups are focusing on bits and bytes, rather than just bullets. Any disruptive attacks by terrorist organisations against computer systems and networks could undermine our socio-economic activities.”

He added that, “the Cyber Security Authority has a mandate to protect Ghana’s critical information infrastructures against potential cyber-attacks, including attacks by terrorist groups. The Authority, under the Cybersecurity and Investigatory Powers, provided for in Sections 69 to 77 of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038), has a mandate to support and facilitate the work of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies including legal access to data and information to assist in investigations and prosecutions.”

He said Ghana’s engagement with the GIFCT, which has led to the workshop being held in Accra, is part of the Authority’s international cooperation mandate to strengthen partnerships and collaborations to achieve a secure and a resilient digital Ghana. Adding that, “the CSA will continue to leverage on partnerships and collaborations – here at home and with our international partners, to build capacity and to support the national security mandate to make Ghana a safe place for our citizens and residents”.

The Ghana Workshop was part of a global series of knowledge-sharing and practical events with technology companies, following similar workshops in the USA, Australia, Jordan, Belgium, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, UAE, India, and the UK. The event is being organised by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and Tech against Terrorism (TAT). GIFCT was founded by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube in 2017, and is designed to foster technical collaboration among member companies, advance relevant research, and share knowledge with smaller platforms. Tech Against Terrorism (TaT) on the other hand works with the tech sector to tackle the terrorist use of the internet whilst respecting human rights.

The hybrid workshop brought together 97 experts and practitioners from tech, government and civil society in person, with a further 120 joining virtually to develop a multistakeholder assessment of the current threat landscape and where solutions and further partnerships can be fostered.