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Diplo Africa Newsletter

July-August-September 2023

Diplo Africa held its inaugural webinar on 5 July 2023 under the theme ‘Empowering Africa Digital Diplomacy’. The webinar was moderated by EBS Senior Regional Advisor of Africa, Dr Katherine Getao, joined by high-level panellists: Swiss Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Valentin Zellweger;  Principal Secretary Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy, John Tanui; Executive Director of Diplo, Prof. Jovan Kurbalija who highlighted the need to strengthen African digital voices and the need for inclusive multilateral digital governance.

On 12 September, a high-level launch event was held at the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Abuja, Nigeria. The Joint Platform for Advancing Cybersecurity was attended by diplomats from ECOWAS states as well as public officials and cybersecurity experts across Europe and Africa. The event was hosted by the ECOWAS Commission in partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office. Welcoming remarks and opening speeches were given by senior ECOWAS Commissioners and high-level representatives who gave important guidance to the meeting on the impact of cybersecurity on development and the importance of regional participation in cybersecurity development. 

Participants were given an overview of ECOWAS’ progress in cybersecurity in line with the regional action plan by Jacques Houngbo and Folake Olagunju. Dr Katherine Getao represented Diplo and enlightened diplomats on the role of cybersecurity in digital development, including opportunities and challenges, giving participants a useful framework which they could use to comprehend ongoing global cyber diplomacy processes. Jacqueline Pateguana and Velimir Radicevic of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) made presentations on the support the GFCE affords to African countries and the best practices that can be harnessed from similar regional processes in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Martian Calleri, a cybersecurity advisor with GIZ gave an overview of the role of women in cybersecurity and the opportunities presented by the ‘Her CyberTracks’ programme. The day ended with a lively panel discussion on the economic and social impacts of cyberattacks. The event played a pivotal role in equipping diplomats in the ECOWAS region with the knowledge and tools they need to participate in global digital diplomacy.

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On 19 September, Mwende Njiraini, Diplo’s Africa initiative coordinator joined the discussion at the parliamentary track at the Africa Internet Governance Forum:Contributing to Internet Governance Process: The key role of Parliamentarians in shaping the digital space’. She recommended that parliamentarians should pass legislation that protects critical infrastructure, provides for wayleaves and encourages capacity building. Njiraini emphasised the importance of cybersecurity and personal data protection laws as well as critical information infrastructure protection legislation and the accreditation of institutions that train network security certifications.

Prof. Kurbalija will be touring African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda to explore opportunities to deliver Diplo courses, build partnerships with the aim of securing funding, and meeting alumni to strengthen the network in November!

We invite you to share events, resources, and blog posts to enrich our African Digital Diplomacy web page and follow Diplo’s social media profiles!