Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has hinted that the government is preparing legislation to protect and sanitise the cyberspace against criminal acts and abuses.
She indicated that the new safeguard measure is aimed at protecting children against cybercrime.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful disclosed this at the second National Girls in ICT Day which climaxed on Monday in Takoradi on the theme ‘Expanding horizons, changing attitudes.”
Attended by 650 JHS girls from nine districts of the Western Region, the event coordinated by the Ministry of Communications in collaboration with Ghana Investment Fund For Electronic Communications (GIFEC) and supports from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Western Regional Coordinating Council (WRCC), provided two-week ICT training and mentorship for the participants.
Sixty students who performed well during the event, received laptop computers donated by MTN Ghana while the first 10 best also got internet modems with a free one-year data bundle.
Central Region will host the next event in December.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful declared: “Government is introducing a Cybersecurity Bill with provisions on Child Online Protection (COP), to ensure that offenders of revenge pornography( that is acts of distributing sexually explicit images or videos without the consent of parties) will be prosecuted. The National Cyber Security Centre is currently reviewing the framework on COP and this includes a comprehensive implementation roadmap aimed at protecting our children online.”
She added that, the ministry would in the next weeks also launch a cybercrime/security incident reporting point of contacts to provide channels including online portals, hotlines, SMS line and a dedicated apps, adding that the Ghana Police Service together with telecommunication industry and the Internet Watch Foundation, would also ensure the proper handling of crime committed online.
She spoke about the critical role ICT could play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and also eradicating poverty, but, noted that this could not be achieved if the non-inclusion of women and girls in the sector was not addressed.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful argued that one way to reduce the disparities in the ICT world was to reduce the misconceptions including the thoughts that ICT requires mathematics skills and that people in the industry did not have social life, adding “don’t let anyone put you down and say you are a girl, you can do it if you stay focused and worked hard.”
A Deputy Minister for Education, Gifty Twum Ampofo, who noted that ICT played an important role in the life of society including industrialisation, agriculture and even international travels, believed that Africa needed to overcome the challenges in ICT, especially in the 21st century.
“Do not let anyone tell you ICT is a study for boys. I urge you never to take NO for an answer. Many women have gone before you and have succeeded in science, technology and engineering subjects. Be inspired by their achievements.” she urged the girls.
The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, for his part, was happy that girls were highly motivated to pursue careers in ICT after listening to some female achievers in the field,
“I will, therefore, personally ensure that this becomes a deliverable responsibility to be reported annually by the assemblies and the Regional Director of Education. I strongly urged our female students to take ICT serious in the educational endeavours because the world is now in the digital epoch.” he pledged.
The Omanhene of Essikado, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, who chaired the event, told the girls to be critical thinkers and use the web to build their future, adding that it was important for women to take the charge, lead and build the African society, which has been ‘messed up’ by men.
“With women conscious efforts, Ghana and Africa will not be where it is today. You must rewrite the history of Africa, but, you can only do it if you have an expanded horizon. You need to write your own stories through the web. Create your own cyber web, but, be critical and ask questions. Whoever controls your image controls your image. The future lies in the web,” he said.