12 April 2018

African Union Commission and Council of Europe Join Forces On Cybersecurity

press release

The African Union Commission and the Council of Europe jointly organized a workshop on cyber security and cybercrime policies today at the African Union Headquarters for African Diplomats based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as part of the ongoing collaboration between the two institutions.

The overall objective of the workshop was to bring together the diplomatic community of the African countries to discuss Cybersecurity matters and further raise awareness on the importance of political, legislative and diplomatic efforts, cooperation and commitment necessary in tackling the inherent cross-border nature of cyber-attacks and cyber crime.

In her opening remarks, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid stated that the African Union 23rd Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted in 2014 the African Union "Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection" to address the challenges posed by criminal activities committed with the use of ICTs.

"This convention, known as the Malabo Convention, seeks mainly to adopt the essential security rules for a credible digital environment enabling the development of modern Information Society in Africa. We believe that without secured e-Transaction there will be no effective digital transformation of the Continent," Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid said.

Considering the multiple dimensions and complexity of Cybersecurity, Protection and prevention against worldwide criminal activities in cyberspace, the Commissioner emphasized the need for cooperation and coordination among a wide variety of stakeholders both within and between countries to promote peace and security in the global cyberspace.

"For Africa particularly, it is important to reinforce the human and institutional capacity to secure our cyberspace through building trust and confidence in the use of ICTs by and for African citizens," Dr. Abou-Zeid affirmed.

On his part, H.E. Ambassador Ranieri Sabatucci, Head of the European Union Delegation to the African Union noted that an open, global, free, peaceful and secure cyberspace is the foundation for prosperity, growth and security of all societies.

"While digitalisation offers many development opportunities to achieve a better future, it also comes with serious potential vulnerabilities. The EU strongly believes that we need to work together at all levels, therefore, in parallel with our internal efforts for cybersecurity, we invest in international cyber cooperation," said Ambassador Sabatucci.

The meeting had fruitful discussions on the main threats, challenges and opportunities of development for the African Continent in the field of cyber security and cybercrime. A specific focus was dedicated to legal instruments for cooperation between States, such as, on the regional level, the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Data Protection (Malabo Convention) and, on the international level, the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention).

The workshop also provided an introduction on the impact of the use of digital technologies and Internet on the conduct of diplomacy (e-diplomacy), as well as an overview of international and regional policy discussions and debates over cyber security and cybercrime issues.

Organized by the African Union Commission and the Council of Europe's Cybercrime Programme Office, the meeting brought together 50 participants including representatives of the Permanent Representative Committees from AU Member States. The European Union is supporting the initiative through the project "Joint EU-CoE Global Action on Cybercrime extended" (GLACY+).

The organizers closed the workshop by pronouncing their commitments to accelerate their partnership on cyber security, namely on the organization of the first African Forum on Cybercrime, which will be held in Addis Ababa on 16-18 October 2018. The Forum's main objective will be to promote a coherent approach on cybercrime and related criminal justice issues in Africa.


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