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GC3B Research Workshop, 28th November 2023: the intersection between cybersecurity and development agendas

To foster scholarly research on cybersecurity capacity building and enhance dialogue between the research community and policymakers, the GFCE Research Committee is organising a workshop on Tuesday, 28th November, in the margins of the Global Conference on Cyber Capacity Building (GC3B).

Following a call for papers in July, eight selected papers will be presented and discussed during this research workshop on the day before the GC3B conference in Accra, on 28 November from 10h00-12h00 (Local Ghana Time) at the Kempinski Hotel. This Research Workshop provides a unique platform for deepening the study of the intersection between cybersecurity and development agendas. More importantly, it is a space where scholars and researchers will have the opportunity to present their work and reflect on the topics alongside practitioners.

Moderated by GFCE Research Committee Chair, Dr. Enrico Calandro, and with a dedicated Chair and Discussant leading each of the three panels, participants can expect to learn more about interdisciplinary and/or multi-method research, comparative perspectives within and across regions as well as topics which connect specific realities with broader CCB topics. For more information and latest updates, please check the GFCE Annual Meeting

Panel 1

Panel 2

Panel 3

Clearing House Coordinator/Global Partnerships Manager (UK FCDO)


UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office


September 2021 – March 2022

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Africa regional meeting 2016

From 12 to 13 April 2016 a regional meeting on Cyber Security in West Africa was held in Dakar, initiated by the Government of Senegal and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in Partnership with the UNODC. The event was attended by approximately 200 national, regional and international experts and focused on the main theme “Awareness and experience feedback on Cyber security”. The meeting took place as part of the GFCE initiative ‘Progressing cybersecurity in Senegal and West Africa’.

Cyber Awareness among West African Decision Makers

The regional meeting, placed under the patronage of his Excellency the Prime Minister of Senegal Mr. Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne was opened by Doctor Yaya Abdoul Kane, Minister of Post and Telecommunications who expressed the pride of Senegal to host this important meeting as well as the readiness of his country to provide all the necessary for a safe, secure, and free Internet.

Professor Abdallah Cissé, legislative drafters and specialized in cyberlaw, opened the meeting by an inaugural lecture on the opportunities and threats in Cyberspace. He sensitized authorities and meeting participants present on the importance of cyber awareness raising especially among West African decision makers. He argued that African countries are highly vulnerable to cyber threats and therefore the need for them to get involved in cyber security initiatives to ensure and promote confidence in cyberspace. Mr.  Cissé recalled the urgent need for ratification of regional legal instruments within an operational and strategic approach such as the Convention of Malabo and Budapest, as well as implementing a set of measures that could  promote the ownership of opportunities in cyberspace but also to support initiatives in the fight against cyber criminals.On the theme dedicated to national cybersecurity strategies, the presentation on cyber security reference situations in Senegal and Burkina Faso, showed the urgent need for (West) African countries to consider cyber security as a priority in national development policy. Several activities and specific actions have been conducted and organization’s inception has started but coordination, leadership and capacities building on cyber security capabilities are still insufficient.

Other panels on topics such as the development of CERTs, legislative frameworks, education and cyber awareness were debated among experts and the general audience. West African society was presented with many participants from public and private sectors, civil society, NGOs, academics and the security and justice sector.


Based on the recommendations during the expert meeting the ‘Dakar Declaration on Cybersecurity’ will be drafted in the coming months.

The main recommendations included:

  1. The need to assist African countries in their efforts to implement national cyber security strategies;
  2. The sustainability of this regional meeting in a rotating way within ECOWAS countries initially and the whole of Africa later, for improved awareness on the opportunities and threats in cyberspace
  3. The need for harmonization of legal frameworks through the channel of Community texts of ECOWAS, but also based on the implementation of the cooperation through regional legal instruments such as the Conventions of Malabo and Budapest.
  4. The creation or maturation of centers of Computer Security Incident  Response Team (CSIRTs) efficient in Africa, and the relevance of the definitions of roles and missions clearly documented  in procedure manuals with a view to strengthen the ability of crises management and to build a culture of trust on the CSIRTs calling for more cooperation, collaboration, coordination and complementarity.
  5. The need with regard to education and expertise, to have their own area of specialization specific to the security requirements of the digital; hence the states are called  to reflect the promotion and integration of new sectors in education while ensuring the harmonization of cyber security training.
  6. Finally, the development of the culture and digital trust or using the Internet in a secured way  through awareness and strengthening cybersecurity capabilities,  especially towards the investigators and security men , protecting children online, specialization of teachers, sharing best practices on  cyber security and public-private Partnership.

Africa regional meeting 2022

On the margins of the 17th annual IGF, the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) and the African Union Development Agency New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) hosted the GFCE Africa Regional Meeting 2022.  

The main objective of the meeting was to provide the Africa Cybersecurity Experts (ACE) community and Members of the CCB Coordination Committee with a platform to share knowledge and expertise on CCB initiatives on the continent. The secondary objective was to guide participants to brainstorm medium to long-term goals for CCB in Africa. To accomplish this, the GFCE Secretariat facilitated a small group discussion that allowed meeting participants to discuss needs, solutions and what they expected to be included in the Africa Agenda on Cyber Capacity Building (AA-CCB).

Sierra Leone to roll out cyber skills assessment with support from GFCE Community

Written by: Jaqueline Pateguana, Clearing House Coordinator at the GFCE Secretariat; Anna Noij, Advisor at the GFCE Secretariat. 

With the support from the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE)’s Clearing House, the Government of Sierra Leone intends to strengthen cybersecurity capabilities of its society as a whole, including citizens, public and private sector.   

The National Cybersecurity Coordinator, Mariama Yormah, says that the initiative emerges out of the country’s National Cybersecurity Strategy action plan. “The Government’s vision is to empower citizens with the freedom to use the internet for the nation’s socioeconomic development,” stated Yormah. To achieve this, they have adopted the National Cybersecurity Strategy 2021-2025 and passed the Cybersecurity and Crime Act 2021. Next, they will measure the maturity level of the cybersecurity capabilities in country, and then roll out a program that strengthens the digital capabilities of citizens, public and private sector so “all are able and capable to take control of their cybersecurity.” 

“This is our second time seeking out assistance from the GFCE’s Clearing House,” explained Yormah. “In 2019, the Clearing House played an instrumental part in securing support for the development of our first National Cybersecurity Strategy thus, to materialize this new vision, the GFCE’s Clearing House function was our immediate first stop,” she stated. In response to the requested submitted in September 2022, the GFCE Secretariat convened a meeting between Sierra Leone and a coalition of GFCE members and partners with potential expertise to address Sierra Leone’s request. At the meeting, Sierra Leone was able to present their needs to the GFCE members and partners in attendance and has subsequently received various offers of support. 

Figure 1. Mariama Yormah, Sierra Leone’s National Cybersecurity Coordinator, attending the GFCE Annual Meeting in September 2022. 

The GFCE Clearing House continues to be one of the primary tools we have to support our members and partners. It is through the Clearing House that we realize our demand-driven approach, where member countries indicate their CCB gaps and priorities. As a Secretariat, our responsibility lies in leveraging our regional coordination efforts to conduct stocktaking of the existing supply that the GFCE community has to offer” stated David van Duren, GFCE Director. He added that ultimately, though, it is the GFCE community that supports local capacity development—a testament that international collaboration and cooperation remain pivotal to strengthening cyber resiliency. 

 During that Friends of Sierra Leone meeting, the Government of Sierra Leone was able to secure support from several GFCE members and partners, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU’s Cyber for Good project aims to bridge the cybersecurity capacity gap in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by enabling access to cybersecurity tools, trainings, assessments, and other services offered by the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)’s Private Sector Members. Under the ITU Cyber for Good project, Sierra Leone has been provided 12 months of access to the BitSight Monitoring Platform, allowing Sierra Leone to continuously monitor cybersecurity posture of 20 national critical infrastructure organizations across 12 risk vectors, enabling the identification of vulnerabilities and better risk planning and mitigation. 

“ITU is immensely proud of its role in strengthening Sierra Leone’s cybersecurity infrastructure by fostering valuable partnerships with our ITU-D Private Sector Members. Cyber for Good complements other cyber activities by ensuring the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) advances impact and delivers results for the Membership by creating lasting change and empowering communities worldwide. I remain firmly dedicated to its ongoing collaboration with GFCE’s community, providing steadfast support to our member states and championing their cybersecurity growth,” stated Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director of BDT at ITU. 

Although one partner has been secured thus far, the GFCE Clearing House is continuing to work with Sierra Leone to identify other GFCE members or partners that can respond to other activities included in the request, including the need to conduct a cybersecurity skills gap assessment to evaluate the national cybersecurity capability, identify areas for improvement and cyber capacity building needs at a strategic and operational level. “The Government of Sierra Leone intends to roll out training and educational programs on cybersecurity generally, as well as national public awareness campaigns on cybercrime and the existing legal framework so to build confidence and use of ICTs for citizens and private sector, alike, and we see the GFCE Clearing House mechanism as the ideal platform to link existing CCB initiatives and expertise with the needs of Sierra Leone in assessing, designing and implementing these activities,” stated van Duren.  

Reflection on the AU-GFCE Collaboration Project


In the two years since its inception in 2020 the Collaboration project between the African Union and the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has made a tangible mark in the cyber capacity building (CCB) landscape in Africa. With an active network of cyber experts (the African Cyber Experts Community) from over 30 African Union Member States (MS), a coordination network stretching over 25 multinational bodies, constant reflections and collection of information on African needs, and a body of Knowledge Modules setting a floor for future up-skilling, the project can be seen as a good foundation on which any number of CCB initiatives can be built. Now with the project drawing to a close, the GFCE reflects on its achievements and discusses where the project might go from here.

Objective and background

The AU-GFCE Collaboration Project has been implemented to enhance cyber capacity building knowledge, enable African countries to better understand cyber capacities, and identify and address cyber capacity needs to strengthen national cyber resilience. Further, the project enables the assembled national cyber experts to share views on how CCB gaps can be filled by conducting regional engagements, such as by identifying regional priorities, conducting geographically targeted initiatives, such as running the Germany – ECOWAS cyber capacity building workshops in 2022. Hence, the AU-GFCE Collaboration Project covered these six phases so far:

  1. Validating Cyber Capacity priority needs for African countries;
  2. Forming active communities that can define needs, participate in wider GFCE initiatives and participate in South-South capacity building;
  3. Creating a coordination body made up of multi-national African organizations to provide strategic guidance for CCB in Africa, including through the production of an Africa CCB Agenda;
  4. Designing and developing Knowledge Modules;
  5. In-person engagement on Knowledge Modules, including collection of African best practices;
  6. Connecting the African community to other GFCE pillars and expanding list of services available to ACE members.

Forming communities and defining needs

The most successful outcome of the AU-GFCE project was the creation of the African Cyber Experts (ACE) Community. It was created through national nominations made at the invitation of AUDA-NEPAD, grown through the GFCE regional meeting for Africa in the Hague in November 2021 and two project-based meetings in 2022, sustained through word of mouth and organically maintained by the authentic engagement of the community. Currently, 36 AU Member States have either nominated their representatives or are actively participating in all ACE Community meetings, while another 11 have either responded affirmatively in terms of interest or have acknowledged receipt of the AUDA-NEPAD letter. The GFCE intends to both continue growing the network, and to sustain the current membership in their professed desire to become “a network of experts for South-South cooperation”. The ACE Community has proven to be more than a community of experts, but also a source of unique knowledge and experience, and a forum for their sharing.

Also, the project has established the CCB Coordination Committee in November 2021 which is made up of over 20 multi-national organizations from the African Regional Economic Communities, the private sector and civil society, and chaired/co-chaired by the African Union Development Agency and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and the African Union Commission. The Committee seeks to provide oversight and feedback on key CCB projects, while also ensuring a great coordination and effective use of resources across the continent. In March 2022, the Committee met to discuss the CCB Agenda for Africa and the work plan for the establishment of a GFCE Africa Hub, both of which are intended to be presented to stakeholders by January 2023. Further, the Committee has acted as a force multiplier for the project, allowing Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to ensure greater participation and higher nomination numbers from their member countries.

Of particular importance for the sustained growth and engagement with the network were the two sustainment meetings of the Africa Cybersecurity Experts (ACE) Community, the first one taking place in Accra, Ghana, in March 2022, and the second conducted virtually in September 2022, with topics such as boosting cyber diplomacy, combatting cybercrime, cyber incident management, common internet and industry standards, awareness raising and enhancing gender equality on the table. The Accra meeting in particular was important as it saw the official launch of the series of nine Knowledge Modules and set a pattern for promoting local achievements by highlighting good practices of the Ghanian cyber security sector.

The second ACE Community Sustainment Meeting not only sought to collect feedback of the ACE Community on the progress of the project, but also provided an opportunity to present the Study on ‘Advancing Cyber Security with Africa’, conducted by KPMG. The report’s results show that most AU member states are progressing incrementally in enhancing their cyber capacities in terms of awareness and skills, Legal and Legislation frameworks at national level. NCS development, Assessments, Cyber Diplomacy, Awareness and CNIP/CIIP, which remain among the focus areas to be addressed by most AU Member States.

Knowledge Modules

The ACE Community’s engagement was instrumental in defining CCB needs in Africa, including the topics to be taken up through a series of Knowledge Modules, which aimed to enhance the understanding of CCB among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, and supporting AU member states in strengthening their national cyber resilience. Based on CCB priority analysis in the first phase of this project, the GFCE engaged with DiploFoundation in August 2021 to produce nine Knowledge Modules (also available in French) on these crucial topics:

The Knowledge Modules contained the summaries of CCB information from the GFCE community, members and partners, and have been calibrated to serve as an introduction into the above-listed topics, and to eventually be enriched with best practices and lessons learned from Africa. Following the Accra meeting in March 2022, the GFCE has been gradually introducing the Modules to the ACE Community through GFCE CCB Enhancement Sessions, held approximately once every two weeks. The sessions were intended to list the reasoning behind why each topic was chosen, what major challenges Africa is facing, a run-down of the Module by DiploFoundation and an invitation to use/ review/ add materials to it, and an invitation to 4 – 6 AU Member States to comment on their experience with the Module topic.

Expanding CCB services for ACE members

The AU-GFCE project encouraged the ACE community to benefit from the GFCE Clearing House (CH) Mechanism and the Cybil Knowledge Portal. Enhancement Sessions and in-person ACE Community meetings have proven to be an invaluable tool for the delivery of national CCB needs and perspectives that can be addressed through the Clearing House mechanism. As a result, the GFCE will continue soliciting the ACE community for their views to develop future CH mechanisms and provide a matchmaking and financing service for African stakeholders. Already, this has borne fruit, with two new Clearing House in Africa cases making progress in 2022 and will continue this year.

Conclusion and going forward

The AU-GFCE Collaboration Project received positive reactions from the assembled ACE membership during the sustainment meetings, stressing that they are ready to become more engaged in South-South capacity building and that Africa is in a great need for law and training (plus capacity building of CERT) as well as national cybersecurity guideline/standards. As a matter of fact, the foundation for the GFCE Africa Hub has been laid, which will serve as a resource centre, a meeting place and knowledge database for our communities, and is intended to be established in Accra next year. We are looking forward to supporting Africa to leverage existing resources, share its best practices and further build its cyber capacities in 2023 and beyond.


Kassaye Tafesse (Ethiopia): “We see the GFCE as a very good opportunity for us since it creates an opportunity to share amongst African nations and amongst the world so that we can learn from that experience of other countries, and it will still help us to minimize costs and be effective to our programs.”

Ms. Rorisang Molefe (Lesotho): “We need to stop keeping discussion about cybersecurity at high level and make it as accessible as possible to all age groups and communities.”

Ms. Nenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo (AUCSEG): “African voice in cyber diplomacy needs to be heard. We need to look at capacity building in terms of institutional perspective. Cyber diplomacy and cyber security need to be prioritised. We need to encourage African states to think beyond their national borders and promote looking at cyber governance from a regional angle.”

GFCE’s increasing efforts in the Africa region: welcoming our new colleagues at the GFCE Secretariat

Following the success of the GFCE Annual Meeting 2019 in Addis Ababa and the need identified within the GFCE Community, the GFCE will be increasing its efforts in the Africa region. Given this, the GFCE has devised a two-tier approach: 1) bringing together the GFCE community and coordinating cyber capacity efforts in the African region, and 2) through the AU-GFCE Collaboration project. The AU-GFCE Collaboration project aims to develop cyber capacity building knowledge (CCB) that will enable African countries to better understand cyber capacities and identify and address their national cyber capacity needs. Moctar Yedaly, Martin Koyabe, and Bernard Brian-Cudjoe have joined the GFCE Secretariat to ensure effective collaboration among key actors and stakeholders in Africa and the GFCE Community. The GFCE Secretariat is looking forward to work together with our new colleagues to strengthen regional collaboration on CCB!

Moctar Yedaly, GFCE Africa Program Director

“It is of my strong belief that one of the Sine Qua None conditions for Africa to meet its development objectives is to tape on the benefit provided by the ICTs. This demands for safe and secure cyberspace. Cybersecurity being a cross cutting sector of the AU Digital Transformation Strategy 2020 – 2030, its promotion in the continent is of most vital importance. The GFCE is a non-partisan institution aiming at building capacities in the Cybersecurity domain which meets my passion and believes for the continent. I am proud to be given the opportunity to contribute to strengthening  the GFCE focus on Africa.”

Martin Koyabe, Senior Project Manager AU-GFCE Collaboration Project

“As the world continues to mitigate the challenges and effects caused by COVID-19 pandemic, many countries in Africa are prioritising their resources towards deploying secure digital infrastructures to ensure reliable digital access by the citizens. The GFCE is therefore uniquely positioned, working with the African Union Commission (AUC), to urgently assist these countries build both capacity and capability in Cybersecurity.  Its therefore my motivation to join GFCE team and lead the GFCE-AUC collaboration project, which aims to develop cyber capacity building knowledge to enable African countries to enhance their cyber capacities and capabilities; and support them in strengthening their cyber resilience.”

Bernard Brian-Cudjoe, GFCE-AUC Liaison

“There are evident gaps in terms of cybersecurity awareness, knowledge, and skills among Africa countries that prevent them from deploying and adopting the right strategies, capabilities, and programs to mitigate cyber threats. According to Quartz, in 2017, cybercrime cost African countries $3.5 billion and as the Digital Transformation Strategy has been adopted by the African Union Member States, cybersecurity should be an integral and indivisible part of the strategy to yield the desired socio-economic benefits. Africa must secure its cyberspace by building the capacities of its citizens and relevant stakeholders especially those that influence policies on technology to provide the needed guidance, recommendations, and strategy to mitigate fraud and crime. For this singular reason of Africa’s digital transformation agenda, I am very happy and privileged to be part of this project to help African countries build their cyber capacities, strengthen their cyber resilience and identify the gaps and national cyber capacities needs to adopt the right strategy.”

AUC-GFCE Collaboration: “Enabling African countries to identify and address their cyber capacity needs”

News Item | 8 March 2021

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise is happy to announce its collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) on “Enabling African countries to identify and address their cyber capacity needs” through a two-year project. 

Digital financial services can reach excluded and underserved populations quickly and efficiently, making it a vital strategic pillar to enhance financial inclusion in developing countries. However, because of the digital nature of the deployment of such financial services, cyber risk is growing rapidly and evolving dynamically in developing countries with low cybersecurity capacity. Countries that do not have, for example, a national cybersecurity strategy, a national computer emergency response team (CERT) and cybercrime legislation may find it difficult to increase its capacity to respond to the increasing cyber risks. According to various national cyber security assessments[1], there is an urgent need to connect Africa’s digitalization efforts with ongoing global efforts to improve cybersecurity as this will enable the region to recap the benefits of digital growth while protecting society and reducing cyber risks.

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) is a multi-stakeholder community of more than 120 members and partners from all regions of the world, aiming to strengthen cyber capacity and expertise globally. The GFCE has extensive expertise and experience that could be valuable for the African region. Various GFCE members and partners are involved in large cyber capacity programs in Africa. This was a key reason to organize the GFCE Annual Meeting 2019 in Addis Ababa with the support of the African Union Commission (AUC). Over 40 African countries participated within the Annual Meeting where  the GFCE Working Groups organized workshops on key cyber topics. Additionally, GFCE side-meetings were organized, bringing together donors, implementers and regional organizations to discuss how they could improve coordination and avoid the duplication of efforts in the African region.

To build on the success of the Annual Meeting 2019 and the continuous efforts of the AUC, the GFCE and the AUC seek to strengthen cyber resilience in the African region in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.

Two-year collaborative project
The GFCE, in partnership with the AUC, aims to develop cyber capacity building knowledge to enable African countries to better understand cyber capacities and support them in strengthening their cyber resilience with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Through a two-year collaborative project, the GFCE and AUC aim to achieve the following outcomes:

The project will build on and utilize existing cyber structures, plans, expertise and capacities within the AUC, as well as within the multi-stakeholder and international GFCE Community. The GFCE Secretariat and the AUC will be responsible for the coordination of the program.

In order to meet these outcomes, the project will focus on the following deliverables:


If you have any questions, please contact the GFCE Secretariat at contact@thegfce.org.


[1] For example, the Global Cybersecurity index published by the ITU and cybersecurity maturity assessments done by Oxford University’s Global Cybersecurity Capacity Building Center.

[2] Based on the themes identified in the GFCE Global Agenda for Cyber Capacity Building.

GFCE and Microsoft announce an investment partnership in Cybersecurity Capacity Building in Africa

News Article | 13 November 2020


The GFCE and Microsoft have agreed to partner to increase cyber capacity building efforts in Africa, through a program focusing on unifying existing cyber capacity building efforts and strengthening the understanding of the cyber capacity needs of the continent. As Microsoft has been a founding member of the GFCE since its establishment in 2015, this collaboration will further support the existing partnership of the GFCE with Microsoft, working towards strengthening cyber capacity building regionally.

“The GFCE is thrilled to be able to count on Microsoft’s continuous support in building cyber capacity globally. As the GFCE seeks to increase its regional focus towards 2021, this vital partnership with Microsoft will enable us to strengthen, coordinate and make our efforts in Africa more efficient and effective.”
– Chris Painter, President of the GFCE Foundation Board.

This partnership comes at a crucial moment for the GFCE as the year 2020 marks a milestone for celebrating its fifth anniversary. Throughout these years, the GFCE has met many achievements supporting cyber capacity building regionally and globally. As the GFCE looks ahead to 2021, it aims to become the coordinating platform on cyber capacity building and further strengthen the GFCE ecosystem by improving processes, expanding collaboration with stakeholders and establishing a truly global and regional presence on cyber capacity building efforts.

Africa has been an important region full of potential for the GFCE and its work on coordinating cyber capacity building, as various GFCE members and partners are involved in cyber capacity building projects in the region. In 2019 the GFCE Annual Meeting was hosted in Addis Ababa with the support of the African Union Commission (AUC), during which different workshops were organized on key cyber topics together with side-meetings, bringing together donors, implementers and regional organizations to discuss how to improve capacity building coordination in the African region.

The GFCE has also been involved in the African region through its Clearing House mechanism. This mechanism helps the GFCE community to support individual countries with their cyber capacity building efforts. In Africa, the GFCE Clearing House has been present through the Friends of The Gambia case and the Sierra Leone. The Gambia has been a requesting member for cyber capacity building efforts and the GFCE has provided opportunities for them to connect, network and contribute to cyber capacity building related to activities such as national strategy and policy development. Sierra Leone has also been involved for their national cyber security strategy.

The GFCE therefore hopes that this partnership is the beginning of improving regional coordination on cyber capacity building efforts and increasing collaboration by engaging stakeholders regionally.