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Diplo Africa Newsletter

October-December 2023

It’s been a busy and fruitful last quarter of 2023 for Diplo in Africa, and here is what we have been up to!

Diplo in Nairobi

The visit to Nairobi by Prof. Jovan Kurbalija kicked-off on 9 November 2023 with a meeting with the Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy represented by senior ministry officer Jackson Makewa. The meeting centred around areas of mutual interest.

The next stop was the GIZ Digital Transformation Centre (DTC). The discussion with Mark Irura and Florence Kinyua introduced the Diplo team to the work of the DTC which is focused on energy, agriculture, and fintech. Their work includes early warning systems, Ken corpus, Mozilla Swahili which is a common voice, AI chatbot, and the ODPC, a business registration service.

The team was also introduced to the Fair Forward – Artificial Intelligence for all project.

A round table of partners sponsored by UNDP Kenya and the Embassy of Switzerland took place on 10 November, with the theme Digital Diplomacy and innovative ICT capacity building.

The round table featured a kick-off presentation: Demystifying AI for Diplomacy including how to apply AI to your work and organisation by Prof. Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director of Diplo; Kenyan perspective on ICT and Digital Diplomacy developments was given by Dr Katherine W. Getao, Diplo’s Senior Regional Advisor for Africa. A presentation on UNDP’s collaboration and programmes with the Kenyan government was done by Caroline Kiarie, Head of Accelerator Lab, UNDP Kenya. Stakeholders including ambassadors and development officials from Argentina, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands, and UNESCO Africa attended the round table. It was recognised that there was a need to collaborate and cooperate to avoid duplication of projects and programmes. In addition, it was recognised that Africa is a green field with investments in infrastructure, innovations such as Mpesa, and a youthful population.

The visit culminated in a reception at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence. A panel discussion under the theme Africa’s critical role in Internet Governance and Cyber Diplomacy: bringing the youth and development agenda into international negotiations took place. The panel was moderated by Dr Kate Getao, and panellists included Amb. Makena Muchiri, Amb. Kirimi Kaberia, Director General of Foreign Services Academy, Mercy Sumbi, lawyer, Daniel Obam, Africa Policy & regulatory Affairs Advisor at Huawei, and John Walubengo from the Multimedia University of Kenya.

Stakeholder Engagement

Diplo’s African Initiative Coordinator Mwende Njiraini, represented Diplo at the Stakeholders Engagement on Emerging Technologies and Data Governance on 22 November 2023. The engagement is part of the Kenyan government’s efforts to review the ICT policy, legislation, and regulations.

Africa Higher Education Research Institute, Uganda

Mwende Njiraini also presented a paper in a panel discussion on the The Role of Higher Education, Research & Innovation in Promoting Regional Integration at the Africa Higher Education Research Institute (AHERI) inaugural conference held on 23 and 24 November 2023 in Entebbe, Uganda.

Joint Platform for Cybersecurity Cyber Diplomacy Meeting and Training, Togo

The ECOWAS Commission, in partnership with GIZ and Diplo held a two-day workshop for diplomats and senior public servants from ECOWAS member states in Lome, Togo on 13 November 2023. In line with GIZ’s Cybersecurity Cooperation Programme, the workshop covered cyber diplomacy and emerging technologies. The workshop aimed to equip participants to effectively engage in international cyber diplomacy processes, appreciate and utilise emerging technologies in traditional work of diplomats, and appreciate innovative ways of conducting cybersecurity and cyber diplomacy efforts.

The workshop was attended by representatives from 11 ECOWAS states: Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinée Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, and Togo. The African Union, and the ECOWAS Commission was also represented.

Diplo provided three experienced trainers who facilitated active participation through interactive presentations, practical examples, discussions, and a scenario case study.

During a feedback session participants stated appreciation for the workshop and expressed a need for continuous training to keep them updated on emerging cyber diplomacy processes, issues, and technology. Participants also emphasised the importance of peer-to-peer exchanges as well as topical, and interactive coursework.

We are confident that the workshop will facilitate diplomats and senior public servants to participate actively and confidently in national, regional, and international cyber diplomacy processes and trust that such workshops will become a regular feature in regional economic community calendars as suggested by participants of the workshop at Lomé.

Afro-Feminist perspectives on data governance

Diplo was represented by Mwende Njiraini at the webinar Afro-feminist Perspectives on Data Governance organised by the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) and co-hosted by CIPESA and Internews held on 27 November 2023. The webinar addressed data protection and privacy in Kenya from a gender perspective, and challenges to gendered data governance.

Global conference on cyber capacity building (GC3B), Ghana

The inaugural Global Conference on Cyber Capacity Building (GC3B) was held on 29-30 November 2023 in Accra, Ghana, under the theme cyber resilience for development, to promote the recognition of the essential need for each nation to cultivate expertise in shaping their digital future. The conference was co-organised by the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, the CyberPeace Institute, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum, and hosted by the Ministry of Digitalisation and Communications of Ghana.

Conference sessions were divided into four pillars: (a) making international development cyber resilient, (b) collaborating to secure the digital ecosystem, (c) cyber capacity building for stability and security, (d) operationalising solutions. Five regional sessions also focused on the change control board (CCB) systems in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Western Balkans, and the Pacific.

One of the GC3B highlights was the introduction of the Accra Call for Cyber Resilient Development, endorsed by more than 35 governments and organisations, including Microsoft, the USA, the EU, and the African Union, amongst many others. It is an action framework recommending 16 non-binding, voluntary, direction-setting actions to support countries in strengthening their cyber resilience, ensure effective cyber capacity building, foster stronger partnerships, and facilitate access to funding and implementation strategies.

Another GC3B highlight that occurred during the plenary session was the memorandum of understanding (MOU), which the Chief of the Technology and Innovation Section of UNECA GFCE signed. The President of the GFCE Foundation Board also agreed to help build cyber capacity in African countries, addressing the significant need for cybersecurity professionals and the protection of citizens.

The next iteration of the GC3B conference was announced to take place in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2025.