Ghana will lead efforts to get African Countries to accede to Budapest Convention - Ursula pledges

Ghana will lead efforts in Africa to encourage states, which have not acceded to the Budapest Convention on cybercrime to do so, Ghana’s Communications Minister has pledged.

Speaking at the 21st plenary of the Cybercrime Convention Committee (TCY) Council of Europe on July 8, 2019, Mrs. Owusu Ekuful said the Convention had been instrumental in providing a critical international legal framework for dealing with criminal activities in cyberspace since its promulgation.

“As the global economy becomes more and more digitalized, it has become imperative to ensure that relevant laws are put in place to check the ever-evolving criminal use of the cyberspace,” she said.

She said at the Plenary in Strasbourg, France that it would be foolhardy to digitize structures and processes without a corresponding focus on cybersecurity, hence Ghana’s resolve to ensure all countries on the African Continent sign up to the Convention.

“We are also willing to share our experiences to broaden knowledge and support other states to accede to and subsequently ratify the Convention and are already supporting the Council of Europe in this regard,” she said.

Already officials from Ghana’s Ministry of Communications have at the request of the Council of Europe, supported missions in Sierra Leone and The Gambia in the regard.

“We intend to continue to ensure we collectively secure our digital economy, as a chain is as strong as its weakest link. We need Nigeria, Niger, Kenya, Uganda and all other countries in the region on board to build a strong cyber secure ecosystem for the digital revolution in Africa to succeed. The African Continental Free Trade Area, which has come into force and which will be headquartered in Ghana, will be largely driven by technology. It is crucial to ensure that our collective efforts to criminalize illegal and criminal cyber activity are also continent-wide and indeed global, as we build resilient systems. We must stand together to win the fight against cybercrime!” she declared.

Reiterating Ghana’s commitment in securing safe cyberspace, the Ghanaian Minister said “Our current cybersecurity efforts, which are intrinsically linked to our relationship with the Budapest Convention are therefore paramount.

“Ghana’s ratification of the Budapest Convention in itself complements the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (Malabo Convention), which requires us, as a state party, to ensure the implementation of relevant legal measures not only to secure our digital ecosystem but also to deal with cybercrime.” She added.

According to recent statistics, there were 185 million unique mobile subscribers in West Africa by 2018, which is 10 million more than the subscribers in 2017. By 2025, it is estimated that the number of unique subscribers in the region will reach 248 million, taking the subscriber penetration rate to 54%, compared to the existing 48% in 2018.

Ghana alone has over 10 million people connected to the internet with more than half of that number being active users on Facebook, excluding Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.

The figures, she said “can only grow more strongly in the future and the penetration rates in West Africa alone show that we need to work together as a region to secure such digital technologies and put in place measures to ensure that cybercriminal activities and social media abuse do not thrive on our beloved continent.”

Data published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2019, reveals that only 28 countries in Africa have existing legislations on cybercrimes, with 11 countries having draft legislations and 15 without any at all.

“We, therefore, view regional collaboration for the implementation of the Budapest convention as an important priority and will champion it as one of the pinnacles of our cybersecurity efforts,” she said.