May 20, 2024
ECOWAS, partners mobilize to strengthen cybersecurity in West Africa
– By Godswill Odiong

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its partners are mobilizing support to strengthen cybersecurity in West Africa through the launch, this Tuesday, September 12, 2023, in Abuja, Nigeria, of the Joint Platform for the Advancement of Cybersecurity in West Africa. This initiative was launched by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with Germany’s G7 Presidency in 2022.

The three-day event will serve as an official starting point for the joint implementation of the ECOWAS Action Plan to increase regional cybersecurity resilience and capacity.

The first concrete lines of work from the action plan to be implemented will focus on (i) the importance of developing and implementing regional confidence-building measures in the field of cybersecurity, (ii) on strengthening regional cooperation and cyber capabilities at the regional level, (ii) on skills development as well as regional cyber diplomacy mechanisms.

For Mr. Sediko Douka, the Commissioner in charge of Infrastructure, Energy and Digitization of the ECOWAS Commission, who spoke at the opening of the launch ceremony of the platform, stated that the advancement of cybersecurity in West Africa is not just a necessity; it is an opportunity. An opportunity to protect our economies, our infrastructure, and our people. An opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to a digital future that is safe, secure, and prosperous for all. An opportunity to improve the lives and livelihood of our West African community citizens in line with our 4×4 Strategic Objectives, ECOWAS Vision 2050, and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

“Cybersecurity is not merely a technical issue; it is a matter of national security, economic stability, and safeguarding the privacy and rights of our people. It is important to act decisively to protect our critical infrastructure, secure our data, and ensure the trust and confidence of those who use digital services…” said the Commissioner Sediko Douka.

It should be noted that other speeches were delivered during this important ceremony namely those of H.E Ambassador Musa NUHU, Permanent Representatives of ECOWAS to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. John Reyels, Head of Cyber Staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany and Mr. Franck-Emery Mongbe from GIZ, Head of Component, Organizational Development Project with ECOWAS, in the presence of representatives of the ICT and Digital Economy Ministries, the Foreign Ministries of the ECOWAS Member States and Development Partners.

It shall be recalled that the ECOWAS action plan (2022-2025) on cyber security is based on four thematic pillars (Development of cyber diplomacy mechanisms and skills, strengthening protection of critical infrastructure, protection of vulnerable groups from cybersecurity threats, including cybercrime and terrorist use of the Internet, fight against cybercrime and data sovereignty). It provides concrete areas for the ECOWAS Commission to structure its cooperation with global, regional and national partners to lead capacity building initiatives in the field of cybersecurity.

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