News item | 20-06-2016
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’.
Written by: Ms Thiam Ndèye Fatou Coundoul, Technical Computing Advisor at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications of the Republic of Senegal
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 therefor 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:
- The need to assist African countries in their efforts to implement national cyber security strategies;
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 trainings.
- 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.