Accra, Ghana – On Thursday, May 9, 2019, senior representatives from the governments of the United States and Ghana participated in the 5th Security Governance Initiative (SGI) Steering Committee Meeting at the West Africa Regional Training Center in Accra. The event was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan; Ghanaian National Security Coordinator, Joshua Kyeremeh; and retired U.S. Ambassador Michael Arietti, who serves as the U.S. Government’s SGI Ghana Head of Delegation.
In their remarks, the senior Ghanaian and American officials underscored both countries’ commitment to improving security sector governance in Ghana. In her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan highlighted the importance of information-sharing to promote security and said that SGI reforms are “strategic, mutually reinforcing, and of mutual benefit.” She added that the United States will continue to stand firm in our partnership with and to support Ghana in making the reforms.
SGI focus area experts briefed Steering Committee members on progress achieved to date and goals established to strengthen mutually shared objectives.
SGI is a partnership between the Government of Ghana and the United States of America aimed at improving the effectiveness of Ghana’s security sector and enabling the conditions for national prosperity. The United States also has SGI partnerships with Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.
Under SGI, in 2016 Ghana and the United States signed a Joint Country Action Plan (JCAP), which identified three priority areas of the partnership: Maritime Security, Border Management and Integration, and Cybercrime and Cybersecurity. In addition, Administration of Justice serves as a cross-cutting theme.
Read Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan’s remarks at the 5th Security Governance Initiative (SGI) Steering Committee Meeting below:
Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s As Prepared Remarks
Security Governance Initiative (SGI) Steering Committee Meeting
West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC)
Thursday, May 9, 2019, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
“Information is Power: Building Whole-of-Government Security Institutions on the path to National Prosperity”
National Security Coordinator Joshua Kyeremeh
Honorable Ministers and officials;
Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen,
All protocols observed.
Akwaaba! Good afternoon and thank you all for being here at this 5th semi-annual Steering Committee Meeting for the Security Governance Initiative, or “SGI.” I have long been a supporter of SGI’s goals and approach. I am very glad to participate in my first Steering Committee Meeting.
I’m also happy to welcome my colleagues from the United States: Ambassador Michael Arietti, who is leading the U.S. delegation to Accra this week, and representatives of the various agencies representing SGI’s focus areas.
It’s been just over three years since we signed the Joint Country Action Plan. In that document, we set out goals to enhance the capacity of Ghana’s institutions to safeguard the nation’s maritime domain, borders, and cyberspace; and to strengthen the justice institutions so vital to a secure and vibrant democracy.
The goal of these reforms has always been to promote security and to enable the conditions for building national prosperity. Let me emphasize – Ghana stands to gain enormously from these reforms:
- In the maritime area, effective measures against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; piracy; oil bunkering; and pollution will make possible a sustainable fishing industry, a thriving and secure oil and gas sector, increased port revenues, and coastal tourism;
- On border security, effective border management will increase trade and customs revenue by ensuring the safe and efficient movement of goods and people, while countering the illegal actors and activities that undermine prosperity;
- In cybercrime and cybersecurity, promoting best practices and developing effective defenses will facilitate a thriving digital economy, and enhance Ghana’s “doing business” standing;
- And in the justice sector, improved efficiency, transparency, and fairness, are essential to effective governance underpinning all of these areas.
Let me assure all of you here today: SGI reforms are strategic reforms: mutually reinforcing, and mutually beneficial to both our countries. That is why the United States continues to stand firm in its commitment to support Ghana in making them.
We’ve made significant progress since the last meeting in September 2018. At that meeting, we outlined a plan to transition from the “design” phase of the JCAP to the “implementation” phase. And in several areas, we have made just that kind of progress.
I congratulate you for your achievements since then. Let us all acknowledge the skills and hard work the members of the technical working groups have demonstrated and the political support from leadership that was necessary to get us to this point. Ayikoo!
My question to you now is: Can we continue to make progress to the point where we start to see real changes on the ground?
I firmly believe that the key to building on these successes is sustaining and, most importantly, institutionalizing the interagency relationships and muscle memory for coordination you’ve developed over the past three years.
Indeed, in the JCAP, we identified one of the principal means of achieving our goals: by building whole-of-government institutions that are empowered to effectively share and act on information to safeguard the nation. This idea—that information is power—is one I want to emphasize.
What does it mean, that information is power? It doesn’t mean that those who have a monopoly on information have great power. In fact, information is power only when shared, and shared appropriately—in other words, with the right people and at the right time.
There is a Ghanaian proverb that says, “Ti koro nko agyina” or “One head does not hold counsel,” that I think illustrates this idea nicely. One agency, acting alone and without counsel, may act in the wrong way, or too late, or not at all.
I cannot stress enough how important this concept has been in our own efforts to counter the threats we face. After the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, the United States made effective use of information the centerpiece of our security strategy. As director of the State Department’s Operations Center, I made sure my team understood how to collaborate with other agencies to share and act on information.
Exchanging information isn’t difficult—it isn’t hard to set up meetings, exchange phone calls, and reports. What is hard is putting information to use—acting on information in a coordinated way with the right people and at the right time. Doing this requires a keen understanding of how interagency colleagues operate, including who needs to know, what actions they can take to respond, or even better, providing actionable information in order to make the save before it’s too late.
SGI’s support for increased collaboration in Ghana’s strategic planning is one of its major accomplishments to date. Going forward, collaboration on the implementation of these strategies will be critical for success.
We will see changes on the ground when implementation of a maritime strategy facilitates the effective interdiction of crimes at sea;
when border security committees are meeting regularly to plan and participate in patrols, operations, and community engagement;
when the national Computer Emergency Response Team successfully prevents or coordinates recovery from a cyberattack;
and when the data you collect from the Case Tracking System helps you improve Ghana’s capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute crimes. This will also strengthen the deterrent element of national security.
We will see changes on the ground when the reforms you’re implementing institutionalize cooperation on putting information to use. Strong democratic institutions embody these concepts by using timely information to act in the interests of the citizens they serve.
I therefore urge the Steering Committee to continue their support for building these institutions, even, or especially, when doing so means changes to the status quo. The United States stands ready to support you in this transformative journey.
Thank you for your time and attention. I wish you great success in continuing to implement the reforms we all seek to achieve between now and the next SGI Steering Committee Meeting.