12 Countries across Sub-Saharan Africa gathers together in Ghana to address cybercrime

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Commonwealth and Chief Justice
Commonwealth and Chief Justice

Today, with nearly everything in our society connected to the Internet, that cyber mission is more crucial than ever.

It is on the back drop of this that
the Commonwealth Secretariat is holding a 4-day Regional conference involving 12 Commonwealth African countries. The conference which is being held
at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, spanning from Monday 17th January, 2022, to 20th January, 2022, is purposed to critically chart a way forward on addressing cybercrime in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The conference has drawn experts from across Sub-Saharan Africa, including investigators, prosecutors and senior judiciary, as well as Attorneys General and Authorities engaged in combating cybercrime, to enhance cyber-capability and resilience of regional authorities in western Africa in support of the Commonwealth Heads of Government’s Cyber Declaration, in London 2018.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, represented by the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, intimated that, in an effort to strengthen the confidence of citizens and organizations in the emerging digital economy, digital services, and the broader internet and to instill a responsible cybersecurity culture among the populace, the government of Ghana has taken a number of steps to create awareness and to build the capacity of relevant stakeholders including the criminal justice sector to respond to cybercrimes and cybersecurity incidents.

He said, “The Government of Ghana, working closely with the Council of Europe through the GLACY+ Project has trained more than three thousand five hundred (3,500) criminal justice officials, including Judges, Prosecutors and Investigators on cybercrime and electronic evidence in the last five years and this has significantly improved criminal justice response to cybercrimes.

We have also been working with the ECOWAS Commission through the OCWAR-C Project which is supported by the European Union and other multilateral and bilateral partners to scale up this initiative to benefit a lot more officials.”

Dr. Antwi-Boasiako, emphasized that, the conference has come very timely to contribute to the ongoing capacity development activities aimed to improve the domestic, regional and global response to cybercrimes.

“We believe it is high time African states, institutions, and civil society to demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity, with the shared objective of protecting citizens, businesses, and organisations in this digital era. This will be imperative to prevent more damaging cyber-attacks, which could have devastating impacts especially in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic.” he reemphasized.

The National Security Advisor, stressed that, Ghana will continue to work with other countries and international partners to promote the responsible use of the cyberspace as the country seek to extend the operationalization of the rule of law in the digital sphere.

On his part, Head of the Rule of Law at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Tawanda Hondora, said the growing problem of cybercrime requires countries to build effective laws, policies, and international cooperation frameworks.

Dr. Hondora, disclosed that, they have been providing technical assistance to many Commonwealth member countries especially in Africa and the Caribbean region to help them strengthen their cyber frameworks, including their ability to deter and investigate cybercrime and ensure effective redress for victims of cybercrime.

He said, “Through this and other conferences, we seek to raise increased awareness on the scale, nature and impact, and crucial solutions, to the growing problem of cybercrime including here in sub-Saharan Africa”.

Dr. Tawanda Hondora, however expressed his deepest appreciation to the United Kingdom for its support in funding the project as part of its Cyber Security and Tech Conflict, Stability and Security programme.

Ghana’s Chief Justice, HL Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, posited the increase in cybercrime in the Sub-Saharan Africa is as a result of the inadequate resources for local law enforcement agencies and government security services to combat the menace.

He said, “it is essential for law enforcement, prosecutors and the judiciary, as an arm of government to modify the way we work to function more effectively to cope with the new realities of the cyber-world. Law enforcement authorities must be able to strengthen their capacities to investigate cybercrime and secure electronic evidence which today, is admissible in the court of law.”

He therefore underscored the need for a rethink about our laws to know clearly what an evidence is, and also understand that our daily lives in this electronic age should reflect the changes used in cyber attacks which takes different forms.

However, Justice Anin-Yeboah, emphasized that, “proper and effective legal frameworks must be built in our respective countries, to make the cases of such crimes unattractive to perpetrators who are all out to destabilize our countries.”

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