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Weekly Spotlight: 1 October 2023

1. Jamaica to Establish National Cybersecurity Authority in Next Two to Four Years

During an address given to the Jamaican Information Service think tank on 29 September, the Jamaican government announced its intention to establish a new National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) in the next two to four years. Lieutenant Colonel Godphey Sterling, Head of the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (JaCIRT), explained that the new body would expand the role of the existing JaCIRT from being merely responsible for responding to cyber-attack into an authority capable of implementing long-term, comprehensive cybersecurity measures and strategies. According to Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen, the NCA will be funded jointly by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), highlighting the importance of both bilateral partnerships and multilateral institutions in helping countries to upgrade their cybersecurity capabilities.

2. Gang-Run Extortion Racket Uncovered in Central Ghanaian Passport Office

Reports indicate that a local gang known as the “Goro Boys” have established an extortion racket at the Central Region Passport Office, in which members charge customers between USD $86 and USD $138 in additional fees to access standard government services. Local media sources suggest that members of the Goro Boys established the scheme in collaboration with immigration officers, customs officials, and civil servants, all of whom are reportedly deriving financial gain from the racket. This has caused outrage amongst ordinary Ghanaian citizens, one of whom commented that while "the government has introduced digitalisation to scrub all these corrupt activities in the system, but people find their way out to bypass the system." Such instances demonstrate both the enduring challenges of eliminating corruption from government offices, and the detrimental harm which corruption continues to inflict on the lives of ordinary citizens.

3. Cyril Ramaphosa Discusses Illegal Mining and Water Security with Lesotho During Bilateral Summit

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed Lesotho’s commitment to cooperate with South Africa in combatting illegal mining. On 27 September, President Ramaphosa hosted Lesotho’s prime Minister, Samuel Matekane, for the inaugural session of the South Africa–Lesotho bi-national commission. The dangers of illegal mining were brought firmly into the public spotlight followings the death of 31 miners earlier this year after illegally accessing a mine shaft on property owned by Harmony Gold Mine in Welkom, Free State. In addition to mining, discussions at the bi-national commission meeting also revolved around the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which both parties have described as a vital measure for enhancing water and energy security along their shared borders.

4. Suicide Bombing Kills Fifty in Balochistan

On 29 September, a religious gathering in the Balochistan town of Mastung, during which attendees celebrated the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, was attacked by a suicide bomber, leaving over fifty dead and seventy wounded. While no group has yet claimed responsibility, the fact that the attack took place near a mosque suggests that it was likely conducted on religious grounds. Authorities in Balochistan have subsequently declared a state of emergency, with Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti describing the attack as “heinous”. Simultaneously, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police reportedly prevented an attempted truck bombing in the town of Hangu, which was also targeted against a mosque.

5. Samoa Announces Theme for 2024 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

On 25 September, Samoa revealed the theme of its upcoming Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in October 2024 to be: “One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Common Wealth“. Prime Minister Afioga Fiame Naomi Mataafa commented that “in the spirit of our Commonwealth ‘Aiga’ (family) and guided by the fa’asamoa (Samoan way of life encapsulating values including respect, dignity, and service), the Government and people of Samoa eagerly anticipate welcoming the Commonwealth family to our island home, the Blue Pacific in October 2024. We look forward to sharing our unique Samoan communal culture and traditions as we come together to transform our one resilient family into a Common Wealth.” Commonwealth-Secretary General Patricia Scotland praised the theme for “demanding collective solutions for sustainable development, democracy, peace, and enhanced resilience.”


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