The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the German Federal Foreign Office, the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Diplo Foundation, organised a workshop on cyber diplomacy for West African diplomats on November 14-15, 2023, in Lome, Togo. The workshop was part of the Joint Platform for Advancing Cyber Security in West Africa, which aims to support ECOWAS in strengthening its cyber security governance framework and enhancing its cyber security capacities and cooperation at the regional and national levels.
The workshop aimed to foster dialogue and cooperation on international security issues in cyberspace among West African diplomats, who play a key role in advancing their national and regional interests and values in the digital domain. The workshop covered topics such as cyber security concepts and challenges, cyber diplomacy principles and practices, regional and international cyber security frameworks and initiatives, and cyber security cooperation and capacity building.
The opening ceremony of the workshop was graced by the presence of the H.E Mr. Fischbach, German Ambassador to Togo, and Mr. Jerome Kouassi Boa, the ECOWAS Director of External Relations. In his speech, Mr. Fischbach highlighted the importance of cyber diplomacy as a vital tool to foster dialogue and cooperation on international security issues in cyberspace among West African stakeholders and globally. He also encouraged the participants to actively engage and contribute to the workshop, so that they can return and fulfil their role in their respective countries.
Mr. Boa, in his speech, noted the immense potential and opportunities created by the ongoing rapid digital transformation in West Africa, as well as the challenges posed by cyber threats such as cybercrime, cyberattacks, and cyber espionage. He stressed the need for effective cyber diplomacy to safeguard the stability, prosperity, and sovereignty of the region, while emphasising the collective nature of cyber security. He underscored that diplomats must address cyber issues as part of advancing their national objectives, such as promoting peace, security, development, and human rights.
He also pointed out the compelling need for coordinated regional cyber diplomacy to build cooperation, capacity, and norms. He expressed his hope that the workshop will contribute to the enhancement of the region’s digital development and security, as well as to the advancement of a peaceful, open, and inclusive cyberspace for all.
The Joint Platform for Advancing Cyber Security in West Africa will focus on building regional cyber diplomacy, combatting cybercrime, ensuring data sovereignty, and protecting critical infrastructure.