Ambassador Sullivan’s Remarks – 6th Security Governance Initiative Steering Committee Meeting

Ambassador Sullivan delivering her opening remarks at the 6th Security Governance Initiative Steering Committee Meeting in Accra.

Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s As Delivered Remarks

Security Governance Initiative (SGI) Steering Committee Meeting

West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC)

Wednesday, January 22, 2019, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.


Co-Chair and National Security Coordinator Joshua Kyeremeh

Honorable Minister of Defense Dominic Nitiwul

other Government of Ghana officials;

Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions present;

Assistant Secretary Kirsten Madison;

Ambassador Michael Arietti;

other esteemed colleagues from Washington;

Distinguished guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen,

All protocols observed.

Akwaaba and good afternoon to everyone!

I’m very pleased to participate in my second Steering Committee Meeting for the Security Governance Initiative.  Thank you to Assistant Secretary Madison, Acting Assistant Commissioner Moncayo, Deputy Director Reid-Hippolyte, and of course Ambassador Arietti for traveling from the United States for this week’s engagements.  As Ambassador Arietti relayed to you, this is his last Steering Committee Meeting.

Moving forward, I will take the lead for the U.S. side of SGI.  I’d like to offer my profound thanks to Ambassador Arietti for his years of committed support to SGI.  Please join me in a round of applause.

I have long been an advocate for the Security Governance Initiative, and I am looking forward to being more engaged, particularly now as so many crucial activities are coming to fruition.  Since our last meeting in May, each of the Focus Area groups have made significant progress on their respective strategies; the National Border Security Strategy will soon be official.  I understand the National Integrated Maritime Strategy and the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy are undergoing final revisions, and we can expect to see these key strategies finalized soon.  I would like to commend the Focus Area leads, implementing partners, and technical working groups for capitalizing on all the available expertise in the maritime, border, and cyber security areas to ensure that the strategies you have developed are feasible to implement and will tangibly improve security in your respective domains.  Job well done!  Ayekoo!

I’d like to take a moment to recognize each of Ghana’s Focus Area leads:  For Focus Area 1 (maritime security), Captain Kofi Ankamah of the Ghana Maritime Authority. Please note that Captain Ankamah was recently awarded SGI Focus Area Lead of the Year for 2019.

For Focus Area 2 (border security) enjoys two co-leads, who have actively traveled around Ghana the past few months on a mission to sensitize middle- and senior-level border officials to the contents of the Border Memorandum of Agreement and the nearly finalized National Border Security Strategy.  Thank you to Ghana Immigration Services Assistant Commissioner Fred Amankwa and Ghana Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner Iddrisu Seidu for your work.

For Focus Area 3 (cyber security), congratulations to Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako on another successful National Cyber Awareness Month, along with significant progress in advancing the work to launch effective and FIRST-accredited national and sub-national Computer Emergency Response Teams.

And for the cross-cutting theme of the Administration of Justice, thank you as well to Professor Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua of the Case Tracking System for a comprehensive series of piloting and one-on-one mentoring among the key stakeholder agencies.

While we celebrate everyone’s hard work and achievements, we meet here today in the spirit of strengthening even further our efforts to reduce the threats to the security, well-being, and prosperity of Ghana and this region.

Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea continues to directly threaten lives and livelihoods.  Insecurity threatens commerce, rule of law at sea, and fish stocks and food security. Porous borders allow for trafficking in persons, wildlife, drugs, and worse, all negatively affecting lives and households.

Moreover, while extremism threatens to spread from neighboring hotspots, the cybersphere continually presents novel challenges, reminding us that virtual borders are even harder to protect than physical ones.  Across the board, the justice sector faces the daunting task of matching punishments to crimes and providing timely justice for all.

The United States shares Ghana’s concerns about these issues, which reinforces the importance of our working together to realize the goals mapped out under SGI.

How can we do this?  I think the National Border Fusion Center is a great place to start.   This morning’s launch marked an impressive achievement, and one of great personal interest to me.  I have served multiple assignments in the U.S. Department of State’s 24/7 alerting, briefing, communications and crisis management center, as well as in the White House Situation Room. I can attest to the value of bringing different perspectives and subject matter expertise together to make sense of incoming information, and communicate it to decision-makers so they can make decisions and take well informed actions in the most critical and time-sensitive moments.

Better information sharing among U.S. government agencies might have prevented the devastating attacks of 9/11 2001.While we cannot rewrite our past, we hope that sharing our own painfully learned lessons will help make Ghana’s Border Fusion Center the premier intelligence hub for decision-makers.

Thank you to the Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, National Security Council, Bureau of National Investigations, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Police Service, and Narcotics Control Board for contributing analysts to the Fusion Center – this is a worthy investment and a great team effort!

As Ambassador Arietti explained, from the U.S. perspective, Ghana’s Security Governance Initiative is transitioning from a program managed in Washington to one managed here in Accra. We see this as a welcome step, because it means we can take advantage of opportunities with more agility when they arise – and in my view, this sort of flexibility is fundamental for security sector governance.  Ghana has made great strides toward building resilient institutions, meaning the best ideas and processes outlast any particular personnel or political changes and are responsive to shifting dynamics.

Applied to SGI, this means that we will retain the best practices and adapt our approach as needed. On that note, I was pleased to hear that the recent stock-taking report and JCAP review process found that the 2016 goals and objectives remain on-point.  We can all agree that the ambitious goals outlined in the JCAP take time, but this does not mean we can rest on our laurels.  Instead, we now have the opportunity to take the ideas that have been captured in the National Integrated Maritime Strategy, the National Border Security Strategy, and the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy and map out – carry out  – detailed implementation plans.

Only then can we fully activate our network of partners, experts, and implementing partners to crystalize the security concepts we discussed for nearly five years. Together with my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy and throughout the U.S. government, I look forward to developing future plans that will capitalize on the hard work and achievements SGI has enabled so far.  Thank you again to everyone for your attendance today and for the work you have done to make SGI a concept we can all support.

I think this Akan expression captures the status well:  Woforo dua pa a, na yepia wo.“When you climb a good tree, you are given a push.” In other words, when you work for a good cause, you will get support.I look forward to continuing our journey up the tree to harvest the fruit together.

Thank you.