The West Africa regional forum of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, has opened in Banjul, the Gambia, with the theme: “The abuse of cyberspace, a challenge to national, regional and international peace and security – call for awareness.”
“No matter where we live around the globe, there are immensely harnessing the benefits of the cyberspace in real time,” Director General Gambia’s State Intelligence Service, Ousaman Sowe, said in his opening remarks on Wednesday in Banjul
He added that “this is possible because we live in the age of huge and fast-placed digital transformation, namely big data, artificial intelligence, computing, the internet of things, G5 and other emerging technologies that shape digital future.
“Today, the internet enables us to freely harness cyber space for our prosperity, education and commerce and socialization. The internet of thing-where every device is connected to the internet, where so much of our lives revolves around and will be determined,” he said.
He added: “The challenge we face is that the same qualities can and are being abused by individuals persons and groups of persons to do us harm.
The cyberspace is flexible, available, connectable and easy to use and put such power and knowledge in the hands of so many people around the world hence difficult to effectively police, monitor and control.”
Sowe pointed out, “it affords terrorists, transnational criminal syndicates, cybercriminal, extremists and idle slanderers, cyber bullies more ways to attack and we are most vulnerable.
According to him, those vulnerable are compounded by a lack of cyber awareness to most users amongst, local communities, cities and across a range of industries and even government agencies in countries in the African region and beyond.
“There is an imperative to raise awareness about the challenges posed to national, regional and international peace and security. Vulnerability anywhere is a threat to security anywhere, so we need to strongly advocate for rising of awareness about the abuses associated with cyberspace and make strong cases for capacity building in cyber security especially in CISSA member countries,” he noted.
Orphee Hounkanarin, chairperson of CISSA West Africa region and Director-General of Intelligence and Security Service of Benin, said the West African region is posed with threat and this is affecting the region in all sectors.
He said the threat affecting the region includes drug trafficking, terrorism, child trafficking and cybercrime.
He also said the cybercrime is committed with the use of internet which is available to all those that commit the crime at their doorstep, adding that cybercrime is affecting the economic growth of the region.
Shimeles W. Semayat, Executive Secretary, committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, and Director of Central Intelligence Service Namibia, said that the terrorist threat, posed by the activities of groups such as Boko Haram, AQIM and the Islamic State affiliate in the region is on the increase.
He called on participants to acknowledge these challenges, reflect on and discuss them frankly and dispassionately by updating of knowledge especially on the magnitude and transnational nature of the threats with a view to finding practical solutions.
He noted that the West Africa region remains one of the most volatile regions of the continent due to the presence and operation of large numbers of terrorist groups, high proliferation of small arms and light weapons, conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, human and drug trafficking.