By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Accra
The five-day ‘Africa Endeavor 2019’, co-hosted by the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), which brought communications leaders from African and other partner Nations together, to discuss common challenges, explore ways forward and forge stronger relationships, has come to a successful end.
The symposium, which started on Monday, August 19th to Friday August 23rd brought together about 160 military officers, defence industry vendors and multi-national institutions, from about 42 countries, to the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, under the theme “Signal training! Install, operate, maintain, and protect.”
The closing ceremony had the Minister for the Interior for Ghana and Member of Parliament (MP) for Nandom – Mr Ambrose Dery, as the Guest-of-Honour, whiles the Director of Defence Information Systems (DIS), GAF – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Appiah-Kubi and the Director, C4 Systems, USAFRICOM – Colonel (Col) Jeffrey Schroeder, were co-Chairmen.
Interior Minister Dery said that as more devices and gadgets are connected to the internet, the vulnerabilities and risks also increase with the opportunities, thus cyberspace has consequently emerged as a domain increasingly employed for terrorists and activities of violent extremists, alongside the traditional domains of land, sea and air space.
“The emerging challenges of cyber security include the increasing resort to cyber-attacks to gain information, disable, interrupt services and ensure strategic military advantage, for cyber-attacks, unfortunately, are difficult to detect, since an attack from one jurisdiction may be routed through any means, to undermine international cooperation and diplomatic relations” the Minister said.
Honourable Dery, called for the redoubling of efforts at sharing threat information, adopting strategies based on lessons learnt, and continuing to recognize security as a collective responsibility.
Mr Dery finally stated how imperative it is that regular simulation exercises are organized with the regional and national computer emergency response teams, as well as national cyber-crime offices, in order to improve the proficiency and security of the cyberspace.
Africa Endeavor 2019 was a cooperative effort between the GAF, the African Union (AU), USAFRICOM, African Regional Economic Communities, African Partner nations, Western and Allied partners, with the goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4), information systems interoperability, and cyber-security on the African continent.
This year‘s seminar is the fourteenth in a series of Africa Endeavor events, which began in 2006 in South Africa, facilitating training and engagements between the AU, European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Regional Partners, and engaged more 2000 communications specialists.
Africa Endeavor 2019 focused on issues relating to signals interoperability, workforce development and cyber-security, and their potential impact on domestic commerce and national security, especially in a cyber-inundated, globally integrated environment, reviewed lessons learned from previous operations and exercises, and shared on standard procedures for communications support to operations.
The forum discussed the power of a common and shared approach, and the strength that comes from nations working and communicating together seamlessly in support of AU and UN mandated peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions.
Africa Endeavor, which GAF first co-hosted the fifth edition in 2010, moves to Morocco for the fifteenth edition in 2020, where USAFRICOM would co-host with the kingdom.
Awards of merit were presented to Brig Gen Matthew Essien and Major George Eduah – for Exceptional Support, while Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Kevin Garlock – for 10 years of Service to Africa Endeavor, and Certificates of Participation to all 42 countries.
Dignitaries at the closing ceremony included the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), GAF – Lt Gen Obed Boamah Akwa, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) – Maj Gen William Azure Ayamdo, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) – Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Director-General (D-G), Personnel Administration – Brig Gen Awity and D-G, Logistics – Brig Gen Osei-Wusu.