ECOWAS Cybersecurity Symposium 2022 (Benin)

October 12-14th 2022

The ongoing digital transformation in the global economy is unfortunately generating new forms of crime related to the expanded use of information and communication technologies. Africa as well has embraced digital transformation. In its 2021 African Cyberthreat Assessment Report1, Interpol identified as most prominent threats : online scams, digital extortion, Business Email Compromise, ransomware, botnets.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the increased dependence and use of the Internet, computer systems, and mobile devices to work, communicate, shop, share and receive information to mitigate the impact of social distancing. Consequently, most organisations (educational, health, financial etc) have now embraced the digital world by increasingly relying on remote working, this unfortunately has resulted in an exponential growth of cyberattacks and threats.

During the height of the pandemic, citizens at large, corporations, the healthcare
industry and government agencies were targets of cyberattacks and threats. The impact was in terms of an inordinate amount of pressure on financial and human resources: the challenge was two-fold – contending with the novel coronavirus and sourcing mobilisation to deal with cybercrimes. Organisations, communities, and individuals therefore must devise cybersecurity interventions to improve their cybersecurity posture and protect their data and information systems infrastructure2 – good cyber hygiene is now a must.

As part of the implementation of the ECOWAS Cybersecurity Agenda, the Project
Organised Crime: West African Response on Cybersecurity and fight against
Cybercrime (OCWAR-C) , funded by European Union and implemented by Expertise France, is working to enhance cybersecurity and combat cybercrime in the ECOWAS region by improving resilience and robustness of information infrastructure and by enhancing capacities of relevant stakeholders in charge of fight against cybercrime.

To date, the project in conjunction with the ECOWAS Commission has contributed to improving the cybersecurity posture of the ECOWAS Region plus Mauritania by putting in place 2 regional instruments (ECOWAS regional cybersecurity and cybercrime strategy and the ECOWAS regional critical infrastructure protection policy), conducting capacity building workshops, provision of digital forensics equipment and the ongoing establishment/enhancement of digital forensics laboratories.

As mandated by ECOWAS, the project is paying particular attention to ensure that issues related to cybersecurity are seen as a critical element of the broader economic growth of the region.

The first ECOWAS regional cybersecurity symposium in 2021 created a broad overview/understanding of cybersecurity as a key factor for economic and social sustainability, and for investors to have confidence. The symposium also raised awareness on the importance of investing in cybersecurity workforce.

The 2022 cybersecurity Symposium will follow the ECOWAS regional cybersecurity Hackerlab challenge which will serve as an avenue to identify talents and support budding technology youths in the region.

The Member States cybersecurity focal points and members of the Regional Technical Committee (RTC) will have the opportunity to meet with the Hackerlab challenge representatives as a means of building a talent pool of skilled cyber individuals at the national level of each Member State.

As a result, this edition of the cybersecurity symposium aims to build on the readiness of ECOWAS Member States to enhance the cybersecurity posture of the region which requires a cybersecurity workforce.

The objective is to develop a practical roadmap/action plan on how to improve the cybersecurity workforce in the region.



© OCWAR-C 2020. All rights reserved.