General

President urges increased global collaboration to tackle cybercrime

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for stronger global collaboration to ensure that the downsides of information communication and technology do not negate the gains made in the present universal digital economy.

Noting the sophistication of cyber-attacks and digital payment fraud across the world, he said “it was important we closed ranks to deal with these emerging trends, lest we risk the erosion of confidence in the financial payments system.”

“Just as technology offers opportunities to grow our economy and bring progress to our people, there are criminal syndicates who will always be bent on exploiting it for their selfish interest…they have to be relentlessly fought,” the President said at the opening of the 26th edition of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) African Regional Conference in Accra on Tuesday.

Ghana first hosted the conference in 2005. This year’s three-day programme would focus on the evolution of the Africa’s financial industry and enabling the digital economy on the continent.

Highlighting the immense potential of technological innovations towards the transformation of economies accorded the world, President Akufo-Addo said African countries had embraced ICT and technology for growth and advancement.

Ghana, he said, had leveraged on technology to help reform and improve its institutional and regulatory processes towards the creation of a digital economy, and that the results “is supporting sustained economic growth, and improving the wellbeing of our citizens.”

The President told the gathering that Ghana made some modest gains by setting the mode for a digital economy and improved the wellbeing of the people and was rolling out a national identity system which required that a citizen must first have a digital property address among others.

“These biometric national ID cards are being linked to other identification systems and databases, such as social security, driver’s license, and passports, to ensure we have a credible national database,” he added.

Additionally, every landed property was being assigned a unique identifier because proper addressing of properties would ensure efficient delivery of services for development.

Government, President Akufo-Addo stated, completed the cycle of mobile money payments by linking mobile money wallets to bank accounts and the e-zwich card.

The development, he said, created a level playing field for persons with or without bank accounts to conduct financial transactions, and is rapidly promoting financial inclusivity in Ghana, And as a result, the financial industry was witnessing significant growth, and with mobile money penetration in Ghana being the second highest in Africa, evidenced in mobile money transactions worth GH¢213 billion in 2018, up from GH¢78.5 billion in 2016.

The President was confident that with the raft of digital revolutions and reforms being rolled out by his government,and with his administration committed to having systems to manage all government receipts and payments by 2020, Ghana would have a strong competitive urge in the region for financial innovation and access you credit.

He said however in support of the country’s digitisation agenda, that steps were being taken to strengthen the regulatory environment, including the recent financial sector review by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).

The Bank of Ghana has reviewed, amended and consolidated all existing payments system, and regulatory frameworks into the new payment system and services act of 2019.

The new legislation among other things would ensure that banks, non-banking and financial institutions and especially rural and community banks provided services that would bring banking and financial transactions closer to the public.

The President noted that his Government’s agenda of creating a digital economy has naturally been extended to other sectors of the economy, with the introduction of the paperless port system, the e-justice system, and the digitising of land administration services.

Just as technology offers opportunities to grow our economies and bring progress to our peoples, the President stressed that there were criminal syndicates bent on exploiting it for their selfish interests, which, he said, had to be relentlessly fought.

With SWIFT working with Ghana to reduce vulnerabilities to the external risks, President Akufo-Addo urged the Bank of Ghana to make sure that Ghana’s financial sector remained fit for global integration, by ensuring compliance with international standards.

In addition to the establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to oversee and coordinate Ghana’s nation’s cybersecurity programmes, the President noted that “we have developed the Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) ecosystem, and instituted cybersecurity awareness programmes and other initiatives, which have set Ghana on the path to developing a robust national cybersecurity system.”

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