Why Ethiopian government websites are not secure?

WEEKEND PERSPECTIVE – By Andualem Sisay Gessesse – In its development plan, the Government of Ethiopia has indicated that Information Communications Technology (ICT) will be the major enabler of its economic development.

Meanwhile except a few such as, the Office of the Prime Minister, most the official websites of Ethiopian ministries are not working rather or not secure – meaning the sites are not httpS. As a result, browsers such as Google chrome and Internet explorer warn visitors not to open these websites.

The warning message one gets as you see above is: “The connection to www.mfa.gov.et is not secure You are seeing this warning because this site does not support HTTPS.”

That means anyone who visits these websites is vulnerable to virus attacks, spyware, which steals confidential information of the visitor.

Instead of fixing – changing http into https, ministries such as the Ministry of foreign Affairs are using unprofessional blogs using third party domain. In these days of Internet age where individuals have personal websites, I wonder why these Government institutions do not have a secured website.

And the funny thing is most of the Regional Governments in Ethiopia donor have official websites. All the small districts (Weredas, zones are relying on third-party domains mainly social media facebook and twitter to disseminate information. That means there will be no information when Facebook decides to block their pages or decides to change its business model.

It is a shame to see a region in Ethiopia, of which some aspire to become an independent country, doesn’t even have a secured website where one can find basic information, data, on health, and other basic infrastructure and investment information.

I heard some people saying that the regions and the ministries refused to have a secured websites deliberately in order to avoid transparency, which ultimately will lead to accountability.

I say it could be because of negligence and failure to deploy dedicated ICT professional who can handle their websites.

I wonder what the Information security agency, which often claims foiling thousands of cyberattacks on government sites, of the government is doing? How could one protect a website not secured in the first place.

In a any case, I personally suggest to the Ministries and regions in Ethiopia to have a well secured official websites where we journalists primarily can get basic information. And in this two decades of my journalism career, I have never seen a government ministry responding to email request. If you don’t believe me try one of their email they post on social media pages.

Last month for instance we wrote an official letter requesting for information to all the regions in Ethiopia scanned and email and inbox on their communications affairs social media pages, but not a single region has replied or confirmed receiving our request.

Now you know why most of the private media in Ethiopia prefer reporting about girl friend of Ronaldo or about the colure of her underwear, than to report about the health, education or investment opportunities in Afar or Benishabgul Gumz, or Amhara region.

In addition, as citizen the tax payers of Ethiopia who voted for the ruling party and who didn’t, deserve to know what the Government is doing in every sector in every corner of the country. Have a nice Sunday!