Interview with Mr. Jeffrey Konadu Addo Ag. Director General of National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Ghana

  • May 20, 2017

“NITA: Facilitating Cyber Security in Ghana”

Q. Kindly tell us about the operations of National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in Ghana?

A. NITA is a government agency responsible for government Information and Communications Technology services and infrastructure. NITA is a regulatory body that implements government’s ICT policy. Hence, when government thinks of any policy in ICT, NITA becomes the implementing agency and for implementing the policy, the government needs infrastructure to service its activities. NITA is taking care of those infrastructure and other services. NITA also provides services to the Municipal, Metro-politan and District Assemblies and obviously, to the entire populace.

Q. There are issues of cybercrime in the country. What has been the attempt of NITA in protecting Ghana’s cyberspace?

A. So far there have been some efforts in this regard – we have cyber security section here at NITA and we have also as a country signed into the Budapest Agreement on cybercrime and there are processes both by NITA and the Ministry of Communication to improve upon awareness of cybercrime among first of all the government’s structures and secondly among the public at large. NITA is going forward. I am also coming up with other initiatives to help and protect people in terms of cyber criminalities. We are working with the cybercrime unit of the Ghana Police and also with the tel-ecoms to detect and prevent possible cybercrime or at least reduce them, if we can’t totally prevent them. We have to work together with the telecoms to make sure these are reduced drastically.

Q. What more NITA is doing to protect other institutions from cyber-attacks?

A. My key preoccupation on that is to make key institutions and the general public become aware that there is a cyber criminality. Today, people will not come and break into your bank or your institutions to come and steal but they can steal your information, for example, and sell it for money or turn it around for money. In that area, what we will do is make sure people are aware. For example, when you are aware that someone can break into your house, you put a burglar proof or a key even when you are going to sleep. When people go to the internet café and forget to log off from their email ac-count, the criminals can take over their email, change the password and then start sending messages to people on their contacts and even resort to extortion. Therefore, education and public awareness cannot be neglected.

Q. What is the current status of cyberattacks in Ghana?

A. There are so many different dimensions to cyberattacks. Cyberattack, in the sense of breaking into someone’s system, may not necessarily be a cybercrime. But if you talk about cybercrime in a broader context – say in terms of stealing of people’s bank accounts, when people are buying something online and somebody fishes their detail and use it to purchase other things – that is a typical cyber-crime. So attacks per se in Ghana happen but their prevalence is relatively less than the other crimes committed in the cyberspace.

Q. Is NITA collaborating with IT institutions from other countries to tackle cybercrime issues?

A. Yes, we have collaborated with many countries such as the United Kingdom, Korea and the United States of America. We are working on projects with other countries to make sure that cybercrime is reduced to the barest minimum. Recently, we attended a Commonwealth cybercrime seminar in London, where most of the commonwealth countries were present and we shared ideas as to how each and every member state can help to reduce the incidence of cybercrime.

Q. If the Cybercrime Bill becomes a law, what impact will it have on the cybercrime solution in Ghana?

A. Currently we know that there exists a criminality, but our laws are such that it does not take into con-sideration someone stealing from you through a computer. When the bill is passed and it becomes a law, the enforcement agency would have specific offences that they can put through in court. Thus, the cybercrime bill will stipulate what constitutes a cybercrime.

Q. What advise will NITA give to the banks?

A. Mostly awareness, be aware that there is a thief out there who will not come to your bank or to your door to break in and take the necessary steps, in this case, people with the right competence to help protect your equipment, your software and your systems. In going forward, NITA will be embarking on regulatory function that we have so far not been doing to ascertain and to make sure that software systems and things that are being used are properly secured and conform to certain standards so that we can protect people. If anybody brings any software and start using it you never know whether the software is vulnerable or not, NITA is now going to take care of all that and advise properly to ven-dors so that we can tell them look this systems we have analyze it and we have seen that it can expose you so please get your vendor to fix all these things so we are going to offer an advisory services as well to all the citizenry including banks and all other companies that are really exposed to the cyber threat.

Q. What should we expect in the future under your tenure as the acting Director- General of NITA?

A. I want to turn this organization to a highly efficient technology organization where ICT industry, espe-cially the information technology industry in Ghana will have one common point of convergence. I want this organization to spearhead the IT industry and provide the needed resources and regulatory schemes to protect, advance and structure the industry. We want to establish linkages with educational institutions so that IT experts going to school today in Ghana will have an institution they can look up to; with professionals who can guide and turn them into qualified professionals. In terms of helping the education sector, we are going to launch a Wi-Fi service in educational institu-tions, where students can have access to Wi-Fi; for which they are charged from their school fees. I think, we will get to a point where we get a budgetary allocation to maintain our infrastructure and that it may be free for students. The initial goal is to make such service available everywhere.

Q. Can we tackle cybercrime as a country?

A. As a country, yes we can reduce cybercrime. Crime, whether it is in the cyber space or physically, I don’t think we can completely eliminate it but we can reduce it to the barest minimum.

Q. India is known as a leading IT hub in entire Asia. Is NITA looking for a collaboration with Indian IT companies?

A. I have had discussions with some key Indian companies. In fact, in my private businesses I have collaborated with some Indian companies. Hopefully, we can have some collaborations with Indians in Ghana. I believe if some of my discussions yield results, we can both benefit mutually.

 

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