AFiGF 2023: Nigeria, Ghana, other African countries to collaborate on cybersecurity

Nigeria, Ghana and about ten other African countries have vowed to raise the bar in the area of digital inclusion, enhanced security of cyberspace and innovation.

Representatives of these countries spoke to journalists at the end of the Africa Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) organised by the Nigerian government and the United Nations and hosted by NCC in Abuja with the theme: “Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation.”

The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta said the Commission would ensure that the bar is raised in the area of digital inclusion, cybersecurity and innovation.

Danbatta said in today’s Nigeria the financial inclusion strategy of the Federal Government was telco-driven.

According to him, the idea behind leveraging the telecommunications infrastructure strategy is because of the pervasive nature of telecommunications infrastructure.

“Before the mobile money penetration was 1 per cent but not anymore because after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), gave licences to four of our network operators.

“As we speak today, the Payment Service Bank (PSB), the digital financial inclusion index, has risen to about 70 per cent.

He reiterated that the Unsupplementary Structured Service Data (USSD) code which drives transactions in the banking sector was made available by NCC.

“Nowadays Nigerians do transfers without having to go to the banking halls to fill tellers.which used to be the way we are doing it before.

“This important intervention is provided in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. It is a continuous exercise and intervention.

He stated that as a Commission, NCC has a number of initiatives driving the national system of innovation.

He said that NCC empowers the younger ones, the middle aged and mature Nigerians outside these brackets, to innovate by providing Interventions of computer systems and mifi.

About the enhanced security of cyberspace, he said the NCC has the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT).

The EVC said this provides advice on how telecommunication companies can take measures to protect themselves from malicious attacks within cyberspace.

“We even grade the nature of attack to be malicious, light, heavy etc,” Danbatta said.

The Secretary General (AFIGF), Samuel George, member of the Ghanaian Parliament, said it was important to have a unified African cybersecurity approach to an African problem.

George said the African Union (AU) data and policy framework had the synchronised ability to share information with the Nigerians and other African countries.

“Our military and security intelligence that just deals with security, intelligence gathering and all of that should be able to share critical information with the Nigerian military sector.

“If there is a risk that covers both Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria and they do not have similar protocols, then it affects this conversation.

“And that’s why as an African continent we need to ratify this convention because the things that were topical eight years ago in 2015 are mundane now, technology has moved on.

“So we will need to catch up with it,” George said.

On her path, the Chairperson, (AFIGF), Lillian Nalwoga said at the regional level, there have been the Africa cyber security conventions, adding that more countries were needed to be able to ascend.

Nalwoga said without determination, it would be a little bit difficult to be able to address cyber crimes at a regional level.

She also said that African countries need to have some sort of harmonisation of cybersecurity laws in their various countries to aid the fight against cyber crimes.

“We need countries that have not been able to ratify this convention to be able to resolve this and also for countries that are still lagging behind in terms of coming up with the right cybersecurity laws.

“It is not just about cybersecurity. We also need to have countries adopt data protection and privacy laws because it allows the government to do some level of surveillance.

“We need to have cybersecurity laws come up in the same framework as data protection for the rights of the citizens.

“Cybersecurity is important because it protects the citizen from non-state actors themselves, exposes citizens to risk and then from the state itself from surveillance,” she said.

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