Eighth Steering Committee Meeting of the Security Governance Initiative – As Prepared Opening Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan

As Prepared Opening Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan for the

Eighth Steering Committee Meeting of the Security Governance Initiative

May 20, 2021, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

West Africa Regional Training Center


Honorable Minister for National Security Albert Kan-Dapaah;

My co-chair, National Security Coordinator Francis Adu Amanfoh;

The esteemed heads of Ghana’s security agencies and their representatives;

Our SGI Coordinators:

  • Osei Bonsu Dickson
  • Molly Schaefer

Our SGI focus area leads:

  • Captain Emmanuel Ankamah, Ghana Maritime Authority
  • Deputy Commissioner Iddrisu Seidu, Ghana Revenue Authority Customs Division
  • Assistant Commissioner Fred Amankwa, Ghana Immigration Service
  • Albert Antwi Boasiako, National Cyber Security Advisor
  • Daphne Nabila, Legal Resources Center

Ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning!   I’m delighted to co-chair the eighth Steering Committee Meeting of the Security Governance Initiative.  It’s a treat to be here together in person, and I’m encouraged that so many of our friends and colleagues are able to join us virtually.

The strength of this initiative lies in our network of security and justice professionals who all share the aim of improving Ghana’s security sector governance.  I’m pleased that the network continues to grow, and I’m looking forward to another dynamic discussion about trends and challenges in maritime security, border management and integration, cybersecurity and cybercrime, and the administration of justice.

I’d like to welcome my new co-chair, Major General Francis Adu Amanfoh.  The SGI community lost an important personality in the late Joshua Kyeremeh, but the milestones achieved under his leadership have laid a strong foundation for SGI’s next chapter.

General Amanfoh, I must say your background in security and intelligence makes you an ideal leader for the SGI effort.  Thank you for agreeing to serve as the co-chair alongside me.  General, as you well know, you’re coming on board as Ghana grapples with novel threats emanating from the Sahel, the Gulf of Guinea, and cyberspace, all on top of a global pandemic.

Ghana is undoubtedly better equipped to handle these challenges now than it was when we developed the Joint Country Action Plan in 2016, but most of the recommendations remain “in progress” even after five years of dedicated effort.

So, I’d like to take advantage of today’s engagement to renew our commitments to the outcomes envisioned in the JCAP, and to reinforce why I believe SGI is such a powerful model for collaboration.

For the benefit of any participants new to SGI, allow me to offer a brief history of this initiative from an American perspective.  We recognize that our security is tied closely to the security of our partners.  For years, the United States aimed to assist partners by providing training and equipment for law enforcement, the military, and other national security actors.

Too often, these investments addressed immediate, small-scale problems, but failed to produce lasting improvements in our collective security posture.

The Security Governance Initiative introduced a novel approach, aiming to “rise above train-and-equip” by focusing on the institutions – both formal and informal – that govern the security sector.

Over the past five years, achievements in our focus areas – maritime security, border management and integration, cybersecurity and cybercrime, and the administration of justice – have been the product of the technical working groups bringing together relevant stakeholders from both sides to deliberate and guide our efforts.  The United States sponsored study trips, workshops, legal reviews, technology upgrades, and advisory support across the four thematic areas.  Those are important ingredients for institutional reform.

But the true progress has come through formalizing the interagency bodies and granting them the authority to truly work together.  This is the hallmark of institutional change.

Since we last met, Ghana took a major step in that direction by passing the new Security and Intelligence Agencies Act.  Congratulations to those among us whose hard work and advocacy brought the Act to life.

Going forward, rewarding interagency and inter-ministerial teamwork will lead personnel to seek such assignments as career-enhancing, just as the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the United States incentivized joint assignments and broke down “silos of excellence” among U.S. military service branches.

On the heels of the successful passage of the new Act here in Ghana, I’d like to reinvigorate advocacy for finalizing the three strategies that this group has labored to develop over the past few years.

The unyielding threats of piracy (even overnight, offshore in the Gulf of Guinea), oil bunkering, smuggling, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing give urgency to the National Integrated Maritime Strategy.

Violent extremism in Burkina Faso threatens to spill into Ghana, making imperative the National Border Security Strategy, to galvanize Ghana’s border agencies as well as the many international partners concerned with this potential extended hotzone.

Ghana’s new Cybersecurity Act introduces significant changes to the cybersecurity ecosystem. I’m pleased to announce that one of our bilateral efforts to strengthen Ghana’s cybersecurity posture came to fruition just this week: Ghana’s national Computer Emergency Response Team was formally accepted into the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams on Tuesday.

Congratulations and ayekoo! to the team at CERT-GH (cert-G.H.).  Building on that success and fully implementing the Act will require guidance and prioritization through the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy.

Ghana’s economic, food, human, and national security depend on strategic direction.  While elements of these strategies are being implemented already, full realization of the strategies’ objectives requires resourcing and synchronization that come only with the highest levels of political support.  I urge this audience to become strategy champions and bring these guiding documents into force.

Now, as we prepare to hear progress reports from each of the focus areas, I’m grateful for the wisdom in the SGI community, and for the steady effort that has gone into achieving the goals of the Joint Country Action Plan.  I’m looking forward to hearing your insights and ideas for this new chapter of the Security Governance Initiative.

Thank you.