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Ghana seeks to promote child protection through ICT

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Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has stated that, protection of children online must be fundamental in all our Cyber security efforts.

According to her, protecting children online must be given a greater priority than their physical security or at best must receive the same attention.

This was contained in a speech read in stead of the Minister for Communications, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP) at the official opening of the country office of US-based IT firm, Slamm Technologies in Accra by Deputy Minister of Communications, Vincent Sowah Odotei. 

”While we make serious attempts to bridge these digital gaps and ensure that children benefit from the use of ICT, we need to address cyber-crime/cyber-security issues for those who already have access to the internet. Although the internet provides access to useful information, which is a good thing, it is also teeming with a great deal of sexually explicit content, which youth online are increasingly being exposed to.

”They also encounter strangers online who form connections with and exploit them. Some of these online predators, sometimes meet them in person. Unguided, our children, our future, stand a great risk of falling prey to the ills that plague the digital economy as the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can be a double edged sword.”

The Minister however noted that, the increasing availability and accessibility to internet enabled mobile devices and to social media is a lure children cannot resist  adding that, “It is imperative for us to guide our children to utilize these tools in a manner that minimizes or eliminates the inherent dangers therein.”

In his welcome address the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, emphasized that, the ITU has consistently provided guidance and best practice models to support nations to develop their ICT ecosystem, including cybersecurity. Recalling Ghana’s first Child Online Protection framework which was developed in 2015, entirely based on the ITU COP model.

“Subsequently, the ITU’s model has provided the foundation for the development of other best practice models and systems, supporting countries across the continent to implement relevant mechanisms to strengthen the protection of children against malicious contents, contacts as well as the conducts of children as users of the internet.

”It is therefore important that, we continue to engage and interrogate on these very foundations, towards improving our collective response to the child online safety issues,” Dr. Antwi-Boasiako advised.

Internet Penetration

Vincent Sowah Odotei further revealed, the Ministry is working with mobile network operators among other stakeholders to ensure internet connectivity reaches 95 percent of Ghana’s population by close of next year.

According to him, the government is working through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to, among other things, provide communication towers in highly inaccessible parts of the country.

“Hopefully by December 2020, 95 percent of the Ghanaian population should have connectivity. Once they have connectivity, it will provide the platform for the accelerated digitization of the economy. This will ensure that every person, no matter where you live in Ghana, will be included in this digital transformation agenda,” he said.

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