The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has urged the general public to be wary of increasing cybersecurity threats within the ever-expanding digital world.
She said: “The more we engage on digital platforms and cyber space, the more opportunity cyber criminals have to infiltrate our systems and cause us harm. It is therefore absolutely crucial for the public to learn digital infrastructure, applications and systems in a safe and secure manner, and protect our cyber space and the citizens”.
The Communications Minister mentioned cyber-bullying, pornography and extortion as some crimes that have become rife in cyber space, especially on platforms that are supposed to serve as educational and entertainment resources; they inadvertently create avenues for such illicit practices.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful therefore reaffirmed government’s commitment to address cyber-safety issues for institutions and the citizenry – hence passage of the Cyber Security Act in 2020 to establish the Cyber Security Authority for strict enforcement of the law, adding: “We all need to learn safe ways of navigating the Internet so that we can teach others to stay safe.”
She was speaking at a gathering held in Sunyani to climax the Bono Regional version of the National Girls in ICT programme. One thousand girls selected from the region’s eleven districts benefitted from the programme, which was under the theme ‘Access and Safety’.
The minister advised the girls to refrain from practices such as storing nude pictures on mobile phones and other electronic devices, as well as sharing them on social media – stressing that the practice has a tendency to ruin their future.
She also urged the young girls to develop interest in the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related courses. This, she stated, will provide them with a range of career opportunities.
The Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, MTN-Ghana, Georgina Asare Fiagbenu, in an interview expressed satisfaction with implementation of the Girls in ICT initiative; indicating that the aim of MTN sponsoring the project to expand ICT access, especially for young girls, is on course.
She commended the Communications Minister, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC), Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and District Assemblies for their diverse contributions to the project’s success.
Mrs. Fiagbenu noted that in addition to the GH¢10million sponsorship for the project, MTN Ghana is also investing in infrastructural expansion and development as well as provision of digital access across schools to help achieve the ultimate vision of bridging the digital gap.
“The MTN Ghana Foundation has made a decision to provide ICT labs to most of the schools it has been building in recent times. We provide conventional and digital libraries for schools. Beyond this Girls ICT programme, it is a commitment that MTN has made to expand access to the digital space,” she said.
A 14-year old pupil of Bandaman Islamic JHS, Hawa Imoro, was adjudged best among the 1,000 girls. For her prize, she received a GH¢3,000 cheque, laptop, a plaque and certificate. Jessica Boahen of Drobo Demonstration JHS was first runner-up, while Emmanuelle Agyeiwaa of African Faith Basic School-Nsoatre placed third. The first and second runners-up took home GH¢2,500 and GH¢2,000 respectively, in addition to laptops, certificates and plaques.
The top-100 girls received laptops while teachers of top-ten girls also received laptops. The top-20 girls will have cyber-labs built and equipped for their schools. Where there are no labs they will be built from the scratch, while those with existing labs will have them refurbished.