Africa, which has yet to develop a robust digital economy, has lost an estimated $3.5 billion to cyber security attacks over the past few years, Mr Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director in Ghana, has said.
He said whilst countries were focused on building their digital economies, cyber attackers continue to enhance their skills to match these digital advancements and thereby take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Internet and other disruptive technologies.
“Within a short period of time, cyber attackers have advanced to a sophisticated level, whilst most countries still have only rudimentary protection levels,” Mr Kerali stated on Monday at the climax of the National Cyber security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in Accra.
The event, which was formally opened by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was held under the theme: “A Safer Digital Ghana”.
In attendance were senior ministers of state such as Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Communications Minister and Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, National Security Minister.
Mr Kerali said the past decade has been characterised by digital transformations across the globe as governments seek to develop the digital economy.
“Transition from traditional to digital economies remains particularly critical for developing economies as it enables faster growth, offers innovative products and services, creates jobs and boosts economic competitiveness, thereby reducing poverty and boosting prosperity,” he said.
“Despite its infancy, the positive impact of disruptive technologies in accelerating economic growth, but this has been undermined by the increase of cyber threats and risks at national and global levels,” he added.
Mr Kerali said these risks had always been present and cyber security experts have warned about these risks for several years.
However, it was not until devastating cyber attacks occurred globally over the past few years that cyber security has become a mainstream priority in all countries.
Mr Kerali said corporations and governments must invest in raising cyber security awareness and building cyber security expertise and capacity, otherwise they remain vulnerable to attacks with the ensuing financial losses and reputational risks.
He said the World Bank Group has identified cyber security as a critical element to foster digital development and implement the digital economy agenda in developing countries.
He said individual developing countries have limited financial and technical resources to invest in sophisticated cyber security protection; “hence, it is important that countries collaborate to improve cyber security and decrease the level of exposure to cyber-attacks through regional integration and harmonisation”.
Mr Kerali added that this was now even more urgent as advanced countries put up strong defenses, cyber attacks would shift to countries with weaker defenses.
“To this end, the Word Bank Group has established partnerships with other development partners to support the global advancement of cyber security capacity in developing countries,” he said.
“This week, we have a Cyber security Clinic for the ECOWAS, with the support of the Governments of Japan, the UK and Israel.”
He said the objective was to raise awareness and build capacity in cyber security based on knowledge and expertise from cyber security experts.
He said through this, ECOWAS countries would be able to identify their own individual challenges, priorities and solutions.
Air Vice Marshall Griffith S. Evans, Commandant of the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), said the programme was in line with government’s effort to address the cyber insecurity situation in the country.