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Diplo Africa Newsletter

April-June 2024


Cyber Diplomacy workshop at the African Union

On 15-16 April, Diplo organised a hybrid Cyber Diplomacy workshop at the African Union (AU) Headquarters that introduced the 25 diplomats to concepts and issues in cyber diplomacy. Funded by GIZ, the workshop was attended by diplomats from African embassies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The workshop was opened by Director of Governance and Conflict Prevention at the AU, Patience Zanelie Chiradza, and Deputy Director of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ethiopia, Dr Ferdinand Von Weyhe. Both emphasised the importance of African participation in global digital diplomacy and the need to equip African diplomats to participate effectively in ongoing and emerging digital policy discussions.

During the two-day workshop, Prof. Jovan Kurbalija and Sorina Teleanu joined remotely to cover cyber governance, the use of AI to support diplomacy, and global policy issues raised by emerging technologies. In-person facilitators included Moctar Yedaly, Vladimir Radunovic, Prof. Nnenna Ifeanyi-Ajufo, and Dr Katherine Getao, who covered cybersecurity, African perspectives and processes in cyber issues, and legal instruments. The diplomats were given a taste of negotiating cyber issues using a scenario exercise about a regional cyber incident that affected critical national ICT systems.

Upon completing the workshop, participating diplomats reported a better understanding of the meaning and practice of cyber diplomacy. However, they also noted that, due to the complexity of some of the issues and concepts, there is a need for continuous capacity-building activities and they hoped that more of their colleagues from other African countries could access the training.

Group photo at the African Union
Cyber Diplomacy workshop, African Union (AU) Headquarters

Experts convene in Nairobi to tackle cybersecurity challenges in social media

The webinar held in Nairobi on 17 April brought together a diverse group of experts from across Africa to discuss the cybersecurity risks associated with social media, as well as potential remedies and solutions. The panel included law enforcement officials, regulatory authorities, and civil society representatives who provided insights into the complex landscape of social media and associated challenges.

One of the central themes of the discussion was how social media has become a vital platform for political engagement, self-expression, and entrepreneurship, particularly among the youth.

Despite benefits, the panel also highlighted the prevalence of cybercrimes on social media, including ransomware, sextortion, cybersex trafficking, identity theft, and more. Vulnerable groups, especially women and youth, are at increased risk due to economic hardships and a lack of awareness about online safety.

Underreported cybercrimes were among significant concerns raised by the panel. Victims often refrain from reporting due to shame, ignorance about how to report, and lack of regulations addressing certain cyber crimes. The importance of public education and awareness campaigns was emphasised. Law enforcement agencies stated that they have been working on providing resources and information for the public to report cybercrimes and the investigative processes that follow.

The international aspect of cybercrimes was addressed by Interpol’s Jackson Cheboi, who outlined the organisation’s strategies for combating transnational cybercrimes through global cooperation among law enforcement agencies. Interpol’s role includes influencing policies, building capacity, and providing expertise to member countries.

The panel also discussed the impact of social media on elections and governance, expressing concerns about the manipulation on social media that aim to influence political outcomes and spread misinformation. The need for increased regulation and accountability of social media platforms was mentioned, with calls to amend relevant laws.

Emerging technologies, particularly AI, were identified as presenting both opportunities and challenges. AI’s potential to create deepfakes and commit sophisticated fraud necessitates targeted awareness and capacity building to address these challenges. The need for more resources and technical support for law enforcement to address cases of impersonation and AI-generated fraud was highlighted by Lillian Nawoga from Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

In conclusion, the webinar reached a consensus on the need for comprehensive and targeted approaches to mitigate cybersecurity risks associated with social media. The importance of raising public awareness, enhancing digital literacy, strengthening law enforcement capabilities, and fostering international cooperation was agreed upon. The discussion also emphasised the need for a balance between cybersecurity and protecting human rights such as freedom of expression and privacy.

Key observations included the rapid adoption of technology such as AI in Africa, with banks already experiencing AI-generated frauds. The call for a hybrid system of reporting and investigating cybercrimes to build public trust was significant. Additionally, the emphasis on the need for cyber diplomacy and the alignment of policies among states to facilitate cross-border cooperation in cybercrime investigations was a crucial takeaway.


Meeting between the Diplo Africa team and the Kenyan Foreign Service Academy

The Diplo Africa team, Dr Kate Getao and Mwende Njiraini, were hosted by the Acting Director General of the Kenyan Foreign Service Academy (FSA), Amb. Paul K. Ndung’u, and Dr Fatma Abdallah (Assistant Director, Foreign Service) on 17 May.

The discussion focused on collaboration in digital diplomacy training and other mutual interests. The team was informed that the FSA is transitioning into a semi-autonomous institution and is keen on partnering with like-minded training institutions, policy think tanks, academic institutions, and other diplomacy and international relations organisations.

Another highlight was how Africa generally suffers from a lack of regulatory frameworks and capacity to create requisite policies and protocols on the use of both emerging and basic internet and information technologies including all applications for communications.

  • It was agreed that FSA and Diplo would explore collaboration on a training programme for diplomats on digital diplomacy with emphasis on the safe but effective use of cutting-edge online technologies to enhance efficiency and productivity not only at the ministry headquarters but also in missions abroad. The FSA requested a draft curriculum for digital diplomacy that focuses on training participants on the effective but safe usage of email communications, online meetings, video conferencing, Facebook messaging, X (formerly Twitter), and other online solutions as a mode of official communications including the conduct of official meetings.
  • Capacity building and skills transfer through consultations and workshops with experts from Diplo to enable the ministry to identify, procure, and use a digital solution for a secure meetings platform as discussed in meetings.
  • Negotiate a long-term strategic partnership and conclude a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to achieve the following:
    • Strengthen the diplomatic capabilities of Kenyan diplomats through building capacity and skills for using digital technologies to achieve effective and efficient diplomatic operations in the current global environment
    • Allow Diplo to continue to build a pool of experts in digital diplomacy
Meeting at the Kenyan Foreign Service Academy. From left to right: Mwende Njiraini, Dr. Katherine Getao, Amb. Paul K. Ndung’u, Dr. Fatma Abdallah
From left to right: Mwende Njiraini, Dr Katherine Getao, Amb. Paul K. Ndung’u, Dr Fatma Abdallah


Simulation of UN OEWG negotiations for delegates from West African countries

Diplo delivered a very interesting and engaging simulation of the negotiations of the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Cybersecurity for the delegates of Ministries of Foreign Affairs from West African countries. Over two and a half days, participants had the opportunity to experience a UN discussion and negotiation process in line with formal rules of procedure delivered by an experienced committee chairman. The simulation was interspersed with panel discussions involving negotiators with UN experience as well as lively Q&A sessions. The proceedings were concluded by Diplo’s AI platform which was able to generate an impressive parallel report of the deliberations.

This simulation exercise was organised as another step – along with previous trainings and online courses – to refine the cyber diplomacy capacity of the MFAs of ECOWAS member states, in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission, the German Federal Foreign Office, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), under the Joint Platform for Advancing Cyber Security.

Participants appreciated the unique and practical approach of the training and expressed a desire for regular engagement of this type to equip African delegates to participate effectively in UN groups.

Photo of the conference room during the Simulation exercise of the OEWG negotiations on cybersecurity at Accra, Ghana.
Simulation exercise of the OEWG negotiations on cybersecurity, Accra, Ghana.

Diplo Africa team bids farewell to the Swiss Ambassador to Kenya

The Diplo Africa team attended the Kwaheri (farewell) reception for the Swiss ambassador to Kenya, Valentin Zellweger. The team appreciated the support of the ambassador in initiating the Diplo Africa office in Nairobi.

Mrs Bettina Zellweger with Maasai Shukas gifted by the Diplo Alumni, Kenya
Mrs Bettina Zellweger receives Maasai Shukas gifted by the Diplo Alumni, Kenya

Interested in publishing internet governance-related blog posts to our Africa digital diplomacy and governance page?

Contact Diplo’s African Initiative Coordinator, Mwende Njiraini.