Organisation Identifies Cybercrime as Threat to Africa’s Digital Transformation
By Na'ankwat Dariem
The Africa Internet Governance Forum (AIGF) has identified cybercrime as a big threat to Africa’s digital transformation strategy.
This was one of the recommendations at the twelfth African Internet Governance Forum, with the theme ‘Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation’, which ended in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Forum also calls for an urgent need for governments across the continent to increase their investment in cyber security.
In a recommendation signed by all members, AIFG said
“Cybercrime remains a potential threat to the implementation of AU 2063 agenda and AU’s digital transformation strategy. African Union and African government to ensure adequate investment to fight cybercrime activities, ensure international cooperation, and capacity building for lawmakers and enforcement actors, the judiciary and other necessary actors,” the AGIF said
The Forum noted that Africa’s digital workforce strategy is reactive and that urgent investment is required to bridge the digital divide and to develop the digital workforce that is needed for innovation.
The participants stressed that it was vital that penetration into Artificial Intelligence (AI) digital solutions be grown from African datasets, and tailor AI models to the region’s unique challenges and opportunities.
They said the dearth of research in AI on the continent focused on the uniqueness of Africans leaves a huge gap and stifles the ability to develop solutions that identify its culture and people.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General (AIGF) and a member of the Ghanaian Parliament, Hon. Samuel George called for Free internet that is inclusive, Safe and Secure for all citizens in Africa this can only be achieved through collaborative effort by coming together to build an Africa that is inclusive”, he stressed.
He said for Africa to be self-sufficient it must create an enabling environment and laws, and provide digital infrastructures for young innovators to strive which will in turn promote indigenous and local content development in technological development.
George appreciated the vital role of the African Union Commission, the Federal Government of Nigeria; the Africa IGF Secretariat; the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital
Economy; Nigerian Communications Commission; Partners and stakeholders who contributed to the success of the Forum this year.
Meanwhile, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC said African digital transformation can only be achieved by creating enabling laws, institutional changes and provisions of Digital Public Infrastructure.
“We can create enabling laws and institutional changes to respond to dynamics of the internet movement, recent discoveries in AI, Blockchain technology,5G technology and course a vibrating Communications industry. These are the drivers of a digital transformation and also human capital with the capacity to ensure transformation takes place in all the sectors of the economy as well as in governance. These will drive Africa’s digital transformation agenda,” he emphasised
The 12th edition of the event hosted by Nigeria and sponsored by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), brought together political leaders, intellectuals and experts in information and communication technologies (ICT).
Here is the full communiqué from the participants:
We, the participants of the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) endorse the recommendations at the twelfth African Internet Governance Forum, which was held in Abuja, Nigeria from the 19th to 21st September 2023 with the theme ‘Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation’.
We appreciate the vital role of the African Union Commission, the Federal Government of Nigeria; the Africa IGF Secretariat, the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy; the Nigerian Communications Commission, Partners and stakeholders who contributed to the success of the Forum this year.
We value the successful deliberations at the Parliamentarian Symposium, which was held on the 18th of September 2023, as an important start to the 12th AfIGF.
We identify with the successful outcome of the African Youth Internet Governance Forum tagged “A New Era begins” which was held on the 18th of September 2023 within the aegis of the 12th AfIGF.
During the 12th IGF, we witnessed active participation from 17 members of parliament across the continent, 1,417 in-person attendees, and an impressive 1,683 participants who joined us virtually
We declare that:
Africa has experienced significant growth in internet penetration since the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, African states, the African Union, and Regional Organizations to ensure policy interoperability to enhance digital cooperation and digitize Africa.
Africa through the lens of the Internet Governance forum needs to apply and arrive at shared norms, rules, and decision-making procedures that impact the evolution and utilization of the Internet.
IGF is a unique platform for the exchange of ideas, and collaboration that will contribute to the internet
We Want a means to empower all Africans.
APNIG plays a crucial role in the implementation of digital frameworks, most especially in the ratification of Malabo Convention. Hence, the demand for accountability of legislation and transparency.
Additionally, Parliamentarians should implement initiatives already started. (APNIG).
Education curriculum should be of great concern to Parliamentarians, the African Union and all IG actors.
As this plays a pivotal role in breeding the future technology leaders and innovators (APNIG) African states should ensure enforcement of cyber laws, incorporate a people-centric approach, and checks and balances.
IGF stakeholders and Africa should focus on high-quality digital literacy and capacity-building programs that promote competency and intergenerational knowledge exchange.
African Union and Regional Organizations should ensure that the multi-stakeholder approach should lead to cross-border, cross-sectional collaboration amongst African nations to achieve synergy in mutual legal frameworks and other necessary policy instruments.
African governments should have a strong political will that shapes the digital landscape. This is critical to achieving a safe, innovative, and sustainable digital ecosystem.
Technology is a double-edged sword. Hence, the need for IG stakeholders’ preparedness to address the risk posture and its impact.
African growth lies within and in the safe sharing of data and its innovation. African Union, regional organizations, and Ministers should harness the power of data and its free flow.
Cybercrime remains a potential threat to the implementation of the AU 2063 agenda and AU’s digital transformation strategy. African Union and African Government to ensure adequate investment to fight cybercrime activities, ensure international cooperation, and capacity building for lawmakers and enforcement actors, the judiciary, and other necessary actors.
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Africa’s digital workforce strategy is reactive. Urgent investment is required to bridge the digital divide and to develop the digital workforce that is needed for new innovation.
It is vital that penetration into Artificial Intelligence (AI) digital solutions be grown from African datasets, and tailor AI models to our region’s unique challenges and opportunities.
The availability and usage of African data for AI advancement will foster innovative solutions
Promoting responsible AI practices and inclusive data handling is crucial to ensure fairness and transparency.
African governments should put in place legislative frameworks to promote ethical AI principles and make inclusivity a data priority.
The dearth of research in AI on the continent focused on the uniqueness of Africans leaves a huge gap and stifles the ability to develop solutions that identify our culture and people.
Governments should allocate resources to support research and the growth of AI capabilities within our region.
There is an increasing interest in digital technologies across Africa, however, it is imperative that awareness should engender a total acceptance of digital solutions and technologies.
Delegates should advocate with African governments to adopt the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System which is a cross-border, financial market infrastructure enabling payment transactions across Africa to increase cross-border trade and make the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) a successful reality.
To build trust in data digital technologies, enablers like human centricity, equitable accessibility and affordability must be at the forefront for technology innovators and African government alike.
Developing strong foundational IDs is important to the Digital Economy landscape; however, digital IDs should be developed and adopted in such a manner that they can be interoperable, accessible and usable across the African continent.
Furthermore, in our declaration, we commit to:
A multi-stakeholder approach that fosters collaboration within and outside of Africa.
In addition, we in the spirit of continuity commit to unity and dialogue for shaping Africa’s digital landscape.
Continue imploring African Governments to create an enabling environment for the Digital Economy to become pervasive and thrive across the region by reducing taxation on connectivity.