Forty two (42) Students, cybersecurity enthusiasts and cybersecurity professionals within the age group of 18-35 from ten (10) Member States and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, have converged in Lome the capital city of the Republic of Togo to participate in the 2023 Hackathon competition, which will last for 48 hours.
The Regional Hackathon is an initiative part of the wider ECOWAS Cybersecurity Agenda to address cybersecurity and cybercrime challenges in West Africa. It aims to promote inclusivity and regional collaboration in the fight against cybercrime while focusing on youth engagement, skill development, talent identification, and talent retention in the region.
The Hackathon will be conducted as a “Capture the Flag” (CTF), to encourage and enhance participants’ skills in problem-solving and teamwork in a controlled and ethical environment. A CTF is an information security competition involving a variety of challenges in several categories. Teams earn points for each task they complete, with extra credit for difficult tasks.
In her welcome address Ms. Folake Olagunju, ECOWAS Principal Programme Officer for Internet, Cybersecurity and E- Applications, who represented the Commissioner, Infrastructure, Energy and Digital Economy, Mr. Sediko Douka, expressed the Commission’s profound gratitude to the government of Togo for graciously agreeing to collaborate with EOWAS and host this year’s edition of the hackathon. Ms Olagunju emphasised that the hackathon initiative strongly aligns with the Commission’s dedication to reinforcing cybersecurity throughout the ECOWAS region. She commended Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mauritania for their inclusivity, as they were the only participating teams with female members. Ms. Olagunju urged all participants to embrace the cyber world with enthusiasm and to remain steadfast in their commitment to safeguarding the region.
Commandant Gbato Gwaliba, Director General of the National Cyber-Security Agency in Lome, commended ECOWAS for this initiative which will go a long way in strengthening cybersecurity within the region, foster regional integration and international cooperation. He hailed the participants as young innovators, who are expected to develop quality and unique digital solutions adapted to the needs and realities of the region, while respecting ethical principles and security standards, to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Madame Rabiyatou Bah Ly, OCWAR-C Project Coordinator, recalled the many actions implemented by OCWAR-C in collaboration with ECOWAS to enhance cybersecurity and combat cybercrime in the region. The Hackathon complements these actions with its primary objective being to spotlight the region’s talented youth and to provide support in the technology sector, ultimately contributing to development of a robust cyber workforce in the region, she added
Mr. Tidjani Kassime, the Secretary General to the Minister of Digital Economy and Transformation, Madame Cina Lawson, in his welcome address re-emphasised his government’s commitment to increased innovation and the quality of public services, as well as boosting productivity and job creation through a new initiative called “Digital Togo”, which aims to make technology an essential lever for inclusive growth, competitiveness and the modernization of public services. While addressing the participants, he hailed the participants as representatives of the future of cybersecurity and agents of change and progress within the community.
The Hackathon was opened at 12pm, on 16th October 2023. This exercise will last for the next 48hrs with prices for the best three (3) countries and the best overall female participant. No country will go home empty handed, as each country will have a token while each participant will get a certificate at the end of the event on Wednesday, 18th October 2023.