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African leaders commit to tackle cybercrime, enhance digital safety

Lome Declaration summit on cybersecurity. Photo via @ECA_OFFICIAL

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Xinhua | A two-day Summit of African Heads of State and Government on Cybersecurity ended on Thursday, with the adoption of a continental declaration on cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime in Africa.

The two-day Summit of African Heads of State and Government on Cybersecurity, which was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the government of Togo, aimed at assessing the state of cybersecurity and propose policy recommendations for African governments.

Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, President of Togo, told the summit about the need for “developing synergies to fight crime in the digital ecosystem, a revolution of our time that opens remarkable opportunities for humanity,” a UNECA statement quoted Gnassingbe as saying.

He urged other African countries to ratify the African Union (AU) Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection adopted in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2014.

Gnassingbe noted that ratifying the Malabo Convention will enhance cooperation between African Union members on the protection of personal and state data.

Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, on her part stressed that each African nation creates its own National Cybersecurity Program amid the worrying nature of cybersecurity, cybercrime, and the inadequacy of a regulatory framework on cybersecurity and data protection in Africa.

“Africa offers a wealth of economic opportunities in virtually every sector,” Songwe said. She emphasized that the digital economy represents a key asset to unlock these opportunities by accelerating development outcomes through Africa’s demographic dividend.

Songwe cited the International Finance Corporation and Google statistics, in which Africa’s internet economy is expected to contribute 180 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s overall economy by 2025, rising to 712 billion U.S. dollars by 2050.

She, however, emphasized that only 28 of the 54 African countries have data protection legislation, and six are still in the process of drafting legislation.

During the official opening of the summit, the UNECA presented the African Champion for Cybersecurity award to Gnassingbe for his commitment to reforming Togo’s legal frameworks to boost security and trust in the digital sector, it was noted.

The high-level continental summit adopted the Lome Declaration on cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime in Africa.

According to the UNECA, the Lome Declaration is a commitment by member states sign and ratify the “Malabo Convention” and strengthen African cooperation in cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime.

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Xinhua

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