As the world continues to embrace the full possibilities of digital technologies, cybersecurity has become a non-negotiable prerequisite for investment in any organization. However, effective cybersecurity remains a challenge across Africa, with many organizations unprepared for cyberattacks. In Ghana, despite the critical role Civil Society Organizations play, many struggle to effectively leverage digital technology and are also not giving cybersecurity the priority it deserves. This inadequate security, if not addressed, will have dire consequences for CSO operations, such as data loss, theft of intellectual property and financial and/or personal information, and damage to brand and reputation.
Africa Business reports that 90% of African businesses are operating without cybersecurity protocols in place, making them vulnerable to cyber threats such as hacking, phishing, and malware attacks. The economic consequences of digital insecurity are already substantial. According to data from the Cybercrime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Ghana, Ghanaians lost over USD $19 million to cybercrime and recorded 1,097 cybercrime cases in 2020.
In response to this worrying situation, Penplusbytes under the Civic Space Resource Hub project (CSR-Hub) of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and Spaces for Change (S4C), is from the 3rd to the 5th of May, training selected civil society organizations in Ghana on digital security and protection for effective operations and safe activism.
The training which forms part of activities under the CSR Hub project launched in May 2022, will be delivered by experts who will also offer technical assistance and coaching to organisations to develop their internal digital security policies and action plans.
The three-day training program will have sessions on: Digital security concerns and relevance; Digital security policies and/or strategies, Staff awareness and capacity building in digital security; Digital assets/platforms protection and security.
Touching on the need for non-profits in Ghana to take keen interest in training their staff on basic cyber issues, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Jerry Sam explained that “on daily basis, NGOs globally rely on mobile and digital technologies to coordinate and fulfill their missions and this, coupled with the large volume of data NGOs hold of their clients and stakeholders, make them very susceptible to cyber attacks. As such, there is the need to educate and train staff in the NGO space on cybersecurity best practices.”
“Very soon, donors and sponsors are likely to stop sponsoring or working with non-profits who do not have cybersecurity resilience plan. Non-profits must plan, prevent and insure their organizations against cyber attacks” he added.
The CSR hub project is a 5-year project being co-led by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and Spaces for Change (S4C) in Nigeria with support from Ford Foundation. It is being implemented in three countries in West Africa – Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal.
The CSR-Hub aims to build the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) and reposition the third sector to effectively respond to emerging and longstanding challenges to civic space and democratic governance in the region, and to deliver on their mandates and development objectives effectively. The project specifically supports grantee organisations in developing organisational and thematic competences through capacity building, learning and lessons sharing, and technical support to enhance relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency of participating CSOs.
The project has four strategic pillars of focus; Civic Space Protection, Governance and Regulatory Compliance, Digital Security and Protection and Resource Mobilisation and Financial Resilience.