Ernest Opare: “Cyberspace is a vital area that demands attention and investment.”

The GC3B Conference garnered a number of commitments to the Accra Call for Cyber Resilient Development. GCA was an active endorser of this call, and we were keen to hear from leaders across the globe about their impressions of the conference and their vision for how they hope international development leaders make good on those commitments around cyber resilience. This is part of our “Global Voices” series of interviews, this time with Ernest Opare, a seasoned Information Systems professional with over a decade of experience spanning the public, private, and non-governmental sectors in Ghana, currently specializing in security, cybersecurity, and cyber diplomacy.

Recently in Ghana, more than 30 countries, institutions, and organizations endorsed the Accra Call, including Ghana’s Cyber Intelligence and Security Aid Bureau (CISAB) and Global Cyber Alliance. As an active supporter of the endorsed objectives, Ernest Opare – security strategist and CISAB cyber diplomacy specialist – emphasizes collaboration with like-minded organizations. “Over the past two years, collaboration and partnership with the local communities, community-based organizations, educational institutions and opinion leaders on brainstorming and exchanging of ideas on how to integrate cultural sensitivity into cyber awareness initiatives has prioritized the removal of social and cultural barriers, ensuring that the development of cyber capabilities reaches everyone,” he explains.

Question: What did GC3B mean to you and the industry, and what are your organization’s plans to move forward with the commitments agreed in Ghana? What’s on your agenda?

The GC3B conference was pivotal for the cybersecurity industry, providing a globally recognized platform for cyber capacity building. Participation in the conference reflected a serious commitment to global cybersecurity discussions and highlighted the industry’s acknowledgment of their critical nature. My organization places paramount importance on the commitments made at GC3B. We are actively aligning with the objectives of the Accra Call, emphasizing collaboration with like-minded organizations.

Our endorsement of the Accra Call demonstrates our dedication to advancing cybersecurity goals through effective cooperation. Our unwavering focus is on contributing meaningfully to cyber capacity building and enhancing global cybersecurity measures. Our feedback from some of our program beneficiaries last year clearly indicated that many of them aspire to study cybersecurity as a profession. Unfortunately, we do not provide educational training to meet this demand.

However, we recognize that through collaboration and partnership, we can address this inadequacy. To this end, we have partnered with the 233 Cyber Foundation in the United States to offer free training for interested Ghanaians. This confirms that partnership and collaboration, focusing on research, joint programs, knowledge and information sharing, advocacy, and capacity building are the game-changers in our quest to realize a secure cyberspace for all. We always seek such partnerships because they bring the right synergy for the furtherance of our goals.


From what you are seeing in the field, what should we expect from 2024 in terms of cybersecurity capacity building trends, and or international development new initiatives?

In 2024, an inclusive “all hands on deck” approach will emerge in cybersecurity, with individuals, organizations, and governments showing keen interest. Governments and international bodies will prioritize cyber diplomacy and policy development. However, I see the conversation shifting towards AI and cloud security, and this might affect the discussions on, and the need for, fundamental cybersecurity measures – cyber hygiene awareness. In addition, a persisting challenge where governments and donor organizations lack clear commitments to allocate resources to support cyber initiatives will continue. All in all, I anticipate heightened awareness and a collective drive to strengthen cybersecurity capacities globally.

What do you want international donors and private sector groups in your country to focus on, invest in, prioritize, or avoid when thinking about helping support cybersecurity?

It’s crucial for international donors and private sector groups to recognize that cybercrime is an ongoing and pervasive pandemic. Just like they channel funds into critical areas like health, climate change, agriculture, sanitation, and education in Ghana, it’s high time they focus their lens on supporting cybersecurity initiatives. Unfortunately, in my country – Ghana and to a larger extent globally – such funding is notably lacking compared to other sectors.

The Internet is now integral to our world, making cyberspace a vital area that demands attention and investment. Therefore, I urge donors and private sectors to prioritize and invest in cybersecurity awareness programs to effectively combat this perpetual cyber threat and ensure a secure digital landscape for all. Funding can focus on project and operational support. Organizations like the Ghana Cyber Intelligence and Security Aid Bureau have significantly impacted grassroots communities by enlightening individuals on cybersecurity over the past three years. Despite these efforts, the lack of project and operational funding has hampered our ability to maximize our full potential. To truly fortify our digital defenses, I implore donors and private sectors to prioritize and invest in cybersecurity awareness programs. This will foster a more resilient and secure digital landscape.

What role can nonprofits like GCA play in making the Internet more secure?

Nonprofits like the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) have played a significant role in enhancing global Internet security. This is evident through your development and deployment of cybersecurity toolkits and solutions.

Despite the industry’s funding challenges, GCA has made substantial strides. There is a need for a prominent non-governmental organization in the cybersecurity space, and GCA has the potential to fulfill this role. It is essential for GCA to have a presence and interventions on every continent. While GCA has partnered with organizations like CISAB, which uses its toolkits for outreach, having official representation on every continent, especially in Asia-Pacific and other parts of Africa, will further contribute to a secure global Internet.

Moreover, GCA can leverage its influence on the international stage to recommend credible partners to donor agencies for securing funding. An example is the Cyber Intelligence and Security Aid Bureau, which obtained approval to translate GCA’s toolkits into Ghana’s main local language. However, due to resource constraints, this project has stalled. GCA’s recommendation of this intended translation project to donors and funders will play a critical role in achieving a more secure Internet.

How has CISAB integrated GCA’s Toolkit in your work?

CISAB has seamlessly integrated GCA’s Cybersecurity Toolkit into our cybersecurity awareness initiative, Vigilance First, since its inception in 2021. The toolkit serves as the cornerstone of our cybersecurity awareness content. As a small yet dynamic organization, resource constraints have posed challenges in developing a cybersecurity toolkit from scratch. Leveraging GCA’s cybersecurity toolkits has not only provided us with invaluable resources, but is also viewed as a form of essential in kind support.

Recognizing the language comprehension challenges faced by some of our beneficiaries, GCA and CISAB are looking at ways, alongside potential funding sources, that the toolkits may be translated or adapted for use in the local language, Twi.

Our partnership with GCA brings us immense satisfaction, and we express our gratitude. This collaboration has significantly enhanced the impact of our cybersecurity awareness initiative, and we look forward to continued success in our joint efforts.

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