We can’t afford to be victims – Yaw Osafo-Marfo on rising cyber threats


The first-ever Global Conference on Cyber Capacity Building (GC3B) is currently taking place in Accra with participants emphasizing the urgent need for robust collaboration to tackle the rapidly evolving cybersecurity vulnerabilities and risks.

These challenges have the capacity to hinder economic growth, erode societal trust in the digital realm, diminish the resilience of critical infrastructure, and, ultimately, jeopardize the lives and well-being of individuals if not addressed they warned.

Co-organized by the Global Forum of Cyber Expertise (GFCE), the World Bank Group, the Cyber Peace Institute, the World Economic Forum, and Ghana’s Cyber Security Authority under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, the GC3B seeks to heighten awareness regarding the imperative for each nation to possess the expertise, knowledge, and skills necessary to invest in their digital future.

The conference also aims to inspire countries to collaborate in developing these capabilities, fostering a free, open, and secure digital world.

This is the first time, the GC3B has brought together high-level leaders, cybersecurity experts, capacity-building specialists, and representatives from the international development community worldwide to collaborate on shared objectives and solutions.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, the Senior Advisor to President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, bemoaned the increasing threats to global digital development by cybercriminals, warning: “We can’t afford to be victims.”

In the first half of 2022 and 2023, Positive Technologies, a reputable cybersecurity research organisation, reported that the global financial sector was the most hit with cyberattacks recording 18percent, followed by telecommunications companies (13percent), government agencies (12percent), trade organisations (12percent) and the industrial sector (10percent).

Furthermore, Cybersecurity Ventures, a cybersecurity research and publishing platform, indicates that the damages incurred by all forms of cybercrime, including the cost of recovery and remediation, totalled $3 trillion in 2015, $6 trillion in 2021, and could reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

“The threat landscape has become increasingly volatile. Experienced cybercriminal groups continue to grow and create more sophisticated strategies and tools. These challenges call for the need for governments, businesses, and stakeholders within the cyber ecosystem to collaborate and cooperate integrating holistic strategies that will address these complex threats.

“Therefore, a gathering such as this is of great significance to build the capacity of state and non-state actors as a prerequisite to handling these emerging threats in cybersecurity. It is imperative to build the relevant skills, knowledge, and infrastructure needed to safeguard our digital assets, investments in information communication technologies (ICTs), and other digitalisation initiatives,” Mr. Osafo-Marfo stated.

Communications and Digitalisation Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the call for collaboration to address the increasing cases of cybercrimes “is in order because beyond the numerous opportunities are existential threats that we must not lose sight of.”

Noting that Africa is evenly reflected in this global outlook due to the borderless nature of cybercrime, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful stated that in the second quarter of this year, the continent experienced the highest average number of weekly cyber-attacks per organisation, with an average of 2,164 attacks, establishing a significant year-on-year increase of 23percent compared to the same period last year.

“These increasing threats mean we must prioritise our cybersecurity efforts both at a national and international level. Sharing from Ghana’s experience, the government of Ghana is implementing measures to build a robust and resilient cybersecurity architecture. Domestic and international cooperation is the hallmark of our cybersecurity efforts and a strategic imperative enshrined within our National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy and the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038),” she stated.

The roll-out of digitalization has concretely demonstrated how technology can help us achieve a better future. The use of digital technologies has been instrumental in growing the economy, increasing productivity, and advancing human and social development. As such, it has also been recognized as a key driver in the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the same time, Chris Painter, President of the GFCE Foundation said digitalization has also brought about new demands in developing the necessary expertise and skills to address the strategic, institutional, regulatory, and security requirements for an effective and sustainable digital transition.

“This is challenging for every nation and organization, but it does place a disproportionate burden on low- and middle-income countries,” he stated.  “On the one hand, we see that persisting digital inequalities create barriers to developing countries in reaping the digital dividends. On the other hand, the unprecedented increase in connectivity has also given ground to the emergence of new digital risks and vulnerabilities with fundamental impacts beyond the online world,” he added.

As we are immersed in this ‘digital of everything’ era, the capacity to anticipate, manage and respond to digital risks and be cyber resilient is central for the delivery of key development outcomes and in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The stakes are high to ensure that no country or individual is left behind, or below the ‘cyber poverty line’” he stated.

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