Ghana leads AfCFTA’S cyber security efforts

Following the proposal to incorporate e-commerce protocols into the second phase negotiations concerning the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ghana is leading the continent at large in the protection of its cyberspace ecosystem prior to the implementation of the agreement which commences in July 2020.

Ghana – being the host of the Secretariat – is taking immediate steps aimed to stem the incidents and the effects of cybercrime related activities on the various digital platforms that will be essential for intra-African trading activities, with the Ministry of Communications leading the effort to scale up the country’s cyber security readiness.

To maximize the benefits of utilizing digitalization in the area of trade facilitation, it is estimated that a significant portion of the trade engendered by the AfCFTA will be facilitated through online transactions in the form of e-commerce.

Since the success of AfCFTA will therefore largely be dependent on digitalization, it has become imperative for stakeholders in the sector to develop cyber security because any ransomware attack is capable of compromising the safety and integrity of the online digital trading platforms.

Minister for Interior, Ambrose Dery

Instructively, e-commerce across Africa is estimated to reach about US$75 billion by 2025. With AfCFTA becoming the largest trading bloc in the world in terms of population, member countries and spatial spread, Ghana, as the host of its secretariat will become a bigger target than ever before for cyber-attacks; which is why it is leading member States to secure their Information Communications Technology (ICT) platforms to enable Ghanaian enterprises take advantage of duty free trade with the rest of the continent using digital platforms.

The growth of technology and globalization of internet communication commerce have significantly impacted the way crimes in cyber space are committed even as the widespread use of technology and the internet for business transactions and communications have exposed national economies and individual enterprises to an increasing rate of cybercrime attacks.

According to the World Economic Forum, economic loss due to cybercrime is predicted to reach US$3 trillion by 2020 and 74 percent of the world’s businesses can expect to be hacked in the coming year.

Speaking during the 2019 National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery, who represented President Nana Akufo-Addo at the event said a number of such challenges in the digital space have made it imperative to institute effective policy framework to curtail cybercrime in Ghana’s international trading activities.

Recently, a technical committee recommended to the African Union Commission to explore several identified mechanisms aimed at strengthening the human capacity of customs administrations in Africa to ensure effective and efficient coordination towards the implementation of AfCFTA. Key among the recommendations was urgent electronic interconnectivity of the customs institutions of all the various member states before the single market starts up. Such a mechanism is susceptible to cyber attacks.