In the wake of the growing digital world, the Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has cautioned the general public to be wary of the increasing cyber security threats.
She said “the more we engage on digital platforms and cyber space, the more opportunity cyber criminals have to infiltrate our systems and cause us harm. It is therefore absolutely crucial for the public to learn digital infrastructure, applications and systems in a safe and secure manner, and protect our cyber space and the citizens.”
The Communications Minister mentioned cyber bullying, pornography, and extortion as some crimes that have become rife in the cyber space, especially on programmes that are supposed to serve as educational and entertainment resources; they in avertedly create means for such illicit practices.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful therefore reaffirmed government’s commitment to address cyber safety issues for institutions and the citizenry, hence the passage of the Cyber Security Act in 2020 for the establishment of the Cyber Security Authority for strict enforcement of the law, adding “We all need to learn safe ways of navigating the internet so that we can teach others to stay safe.”
She was speaking at a gathering held in Sunyani to climax the Bono Regional version of the National Girls in ICT programme. One thousand girls selected from the eleven districts in the region benefited for the programme which was under the theme “Access and Safety.”
The Minister advised the girls to refrain from practices such as storing nude pictures on mobile phones and other electronic devices as well as sharing them on social media, stressing that the practice has the tendency to ruin their future.
She also urged the young girls to develop interest in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related courses. This she stated, will provide them with wide range of career opportunities.
The Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, MTN-Ghana, Georgina Asare Fiagbenu, in an interview expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the Girls in ICT initiative, indicating that the aim of MTN sponsoring the project to expand ICT access, especially for young girls was on course.
She commended the Communications Minister, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC), and Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and District Assemblies for their diverse contributions to the success of the project.
Mrs Fiagbenu noted that in addition to the GH¢10 million sponsorship for the project, MTN Ghana was also investing in infrastructural expansion and development as well as provision of digital access across schools to help achieve the ultimate vision of bridging the digital gap.
“The MTN Ghana Foundation has made a decision to provide ICT labs to most of the schools it has been building in recent times. We provide conventional and digital libraries for schools. Beyond this Girls ICT programme, it is a commitment that MTN has made to expand access to the digital space,” she said.
A 14-year-old pupil of Bandaman Islamic JHS, Hawa Imoro, was adjudged the best among the 1,000 girls. For her prize, she received a cheque for GH¢3,000, laptop, a plaque and certificate. Jessica Boahen of Drobo Demonstration JHS was the first runner-up while Emmanuelle Agyeiwaa of African Faith Basic School-Nsoatre placed third. The first and second runner ups took home GH¢2,500 and GH¢2,000, respectively in addition to laptops, certificates and plaques.
The top 100 girls received laptops; teachers of top ten girls also received laptops. The top 20 girls will have cyber labs build and equipped for their schools. Where there are no labs, it will be built from the scratch while those with existing labs will have them refurbished.