Stakeholders’ collaboration crucial in fighting cybercrime – GSMA

Mr. Akinwale Goodluck

There is no one way to tackling cybercrime, but an effective stakeholder collaboration across the board could lead to tangible results, Akinwale Goodluck, Head of sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, the body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, has said.

“There is no single solution to the risks associated with online activity, and there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to cyber security. We believe the key success factor is collaboration.

“It’s important to realise that online safety is a multi-stakeholder issue that can only be successfully tackled through a combination of different measures, and with the participation of different categories of stakeholders,” Mr. Goodluck said in a Q&A, after the recent release of a report on mobile-enabled digital transformation in Ghana by the GSMA.

The economy has been battling the rising menace of electronic fraud, especially among mobile money operators. Despite the security measures put in place by the telcos, cases of customers being defrauded is on the rise – which has led to various calls by industry players to get aggressive with these criminals.

“At the GSMA, we believe that education is the first line of defence where issues of online safety are concerned; so, there is a need for stakeholders involved in the process to dedicate time and resources toward building their own capacity and also educating others and raising awareness.

“Governments and policymakers need to realise that the question of online safety is not one that can be regulated away, or fixed with the deployment of technical solutions.

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“So we encourage countries to explore a combination of education and awareness campaigns, policies and procedural tools, industry self-regulatory initiatives and technical solutions, among others, to address issues of cyber security,” Mr. Goodluck added. 

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the recently held Ghana Cyber Security Week, said a national cyber security centre is to be set up in the next few months to liaise with relevant state agencies and the private sector to oversee cyber-security operations in the country.

This, he explained, has become necessary because the national identification system, the digital addressing system, e-payments, digital financial services and the various e-government initiatives in which Ghana is now taking so much pride could be undermined or brought to a halt through cyber crime.

President Akufo-Addo said government is undertaking specific policy and practical interventions – including capacity building, international cooperation, judicial enforcement of cyber-crime legislation, and implementing technical standards and safeguards – to combat the scourge.

The report highlights how the mobile industry and Ghanaian government can work together to support social and economic progress in the country. Ghana is already proactively supporting the SDGs, and has incorporated them into the country’s national development agenda with progress overseen by the President.

Government commitment to the SDGs reflects the fact that while Ghana is a fast-growing economy and has made progress on many fronts, there are development challenges and gaps in access to basic services persist.

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Given the large number of people who have access to mobile phones, mobile platforms are uniquely placed to support the SDGs. The industry has connected 67 percent of the population in Ghana; nearly half the population has mobile Internet access, with penetration in Ghana now second-highest in West Africa.

Further, mobile has connected eight million individuals to financial services, supported farmers and provided access to health information, clean energy and more – underscoring the vital role mobile technology can play in supporting sustainable development in Ghana.

However, the report also notes that despite this progress, significant challenges remain; many of which require collaboration between the public and private sectors. For example, there is a gender gap in Ghana of approximately 16 percent in mobile phone ownership and 17 percent in the use of mobile money services; with an even higher gap of 56 percent in using the Internet, with 2.5 million fewer women online than men.

Mobile operators are working to tackle this through programmes like the GSMA Connected Women Commitment initiative, while governments can take steps to address this issue by integrating gender equality targets and key performance indicators into strategies, policies, plans and budgets, involving women and local communities.

By Bernard Yaw Ashiadey l thebftonline.com l Ghana

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