National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, has entreated social commentators to desist from politicising cybersecurity issues and rather demonstrate their commitment to addressing the menace.
According to him, this attitude displayed by politicians has the tendency to undermine objectives outlined by government to fight against the cybercrime ‘monster’ the country is hit with.
Ghana lost about US$105 million in 2018, according to data collated by the Criminal Investigations Department.
Speaking at a Cybersecurity Breakfast meeting organised by Integrity Magazine under the theme 'Cybersecurity; Everyone is at risk', Dr Antwi-Boasiako stated that “cybersecurity is a security issue and certainly, anything that is discussed, debated, developed from a political angle has the propensity to undermine the very objective. We want to protect our data, we want to maintain the confidentiality of data, we want to protect the digital system that are being put in place. We need to secure digital experiences of Ghanaians. These are matters that should not be looked at it politically”.
His comment comes on the back of the recently introduced Communication Service Tax (CST) which has sparked a national debate.
The National Cybersecurity Advisor noted that the purpose of the implementation of the CST is to support Ghana’s National Cybersecurity policy and strategy.
He highlighted that, though the revenues from the CST aren’t enough to cover the money lost from cybercrimes, the move is in the right direction towards building a robust and resilient technology ecosystem for the economy to thrive.
Cases of cybercrime recorded include hacking into protected databases, business fraud, social media impersonation, ransomware attacks, data leakages and online safety breaches involving children.
It is for this reason that the ministry of communications has set October as national cybersecurity awareness month and as part of the awareness creation, government, in collaboration with UNICEF will sensitise about 20,000 senior high school students across the 16 regions.
About the Communication Service Tax
The CST, which has been increased from 6% to 9%, has been applied to any recharge purchase by subscribers.
For every GH¢1 of recharge purchased, a 9% CST fee is charged the subscriber leaving ¢0.93 for the purchase of products and services.
The 'controversial' directives by the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful are as follows:
- CST should be treated the same way VAT, NHIL, GETFUND levy and all other taxes and levies imposed on entities doing business in Ghana are treated. The extraordinary upfront deduction of CST and notification of same to subscribers must stop with immediate effect.
- All unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge.
- MNOs will be subject to strict compliance with the existing Quality of Service (QoS) standard to ensure value for money in accordance with their licence obligations.
Consumers are outraged by the directive given by the Minister and have called for it to be scrapped.
Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George has also said how the CST is charged on consumers is extortion and undemocratic because telcos will sell to the public airtime and, in addition, get value for the sale.
He explained that having access to technology does not come cheap hence, it is crucial to secure dedicated funding to deal with these emerging challenges.