Ghana Armed Forces to Launch Cyber Directorate to Expand Online Defenses
With cybercrime growing rapidly across Africa, the Ghana Armed Forces plans to launch a Directorate of Cyber and Electronic Warfare Operations to protect the nation’s military from cyberattacks and to expand the country’s ability to detect and shut down online criminal activity.
The GAF is part of Ghana’s Joint Cybersecurity Committee created in 2020 to identify and respond to cyber threats.
Ghana ranks among the top countries in Africa for cybersecurity. It is one of only 14 countries to sign the Africa Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.
The International Telecommunication Union’s Global Cybersecurity Index ranks Ghana third behind Mauritius and Tanzania in its capacity to protect internet users’ data and thwart security breaches. In 2017, Ghana ranked 11th among African countries on the list.
Despite that significant success, the Bank of Ghana estimates that online fraud cost Ghanaians more than $4 million in direct financial losses in the first half of 2023. In 2021, cybercrime cost Ghanaians $9.4 million, according to a Bank of Ghana report.
Ghana has more than 23 million internet users, meaning 68% of the population is online. A decade earlier, 2.3 million Ghanaians were online, according to the country’s Cyber Security Authority.
As in other African countries, Ghana’s rapid expansion of the internet and smartphone technology run parallel to an increase in online crime, including identity theft, financial fraud and phishing — attacks in which hackers trick internet users into providing access to their computers by sending them legitimate-looking emails or links.
“Many Ghanaians lack awareness of the risks associated with online activities. This knowledge gap makes them easy targets for various cyber scams,” Accra-based cybersecurity analyst Samuel Sarfo wrote recently in a blog post on LinkedIn.
Unlike many other African nations, for whom cybersecurity remains a low priority, Ghana has taken important steps to protect its military and its civilian population. It has also approached neighboring countries in West Africa to share its know-how on cybersecurity.
In announcing the new program at Burma Camp in Accra, Vice Adm. Seth Amoama, chief of the defense staff of the GAF, pointed out that security in cyberspace has become as vital to national defense as security on land, sea, air and space.
“We have a responsibility to protect our data, database, network, communications infrastructure and other assets of the GAF,” Amoama said, reported the Ghanaian Times.
He added that improving cyber awareness among security professionals is a top priority.
“As we take steps to protect our critical information infrastructure, we want to assure all that efforts are being made for members of the GAF to understand the cyber threats vulnerabilities, and their impact on mission readiness,” he said.
Safro urged Ghanaian authorities to continue to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity by educating the population about risks to their online safety, by collaborating with businesses and law enforcement to track attacks, and by responding quickly when they happen.
“As the nation continues to embrace digital transformation, enhancing cybersecurity measures, raising awareness, and fostering collaboration between stakeholders are vital to mitigate the escalating costs of cybercrime,” Safro wrote. “By taking proactive steps, Ghana can safeguard its digital future, protect its citizens and businesses, and fortify its position in the global digital landscape.”