The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) has trained about thirty-six (36) civic actors in Cameroon, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire to help improve the digital resilience of Organisations, including CSOs.
The 3-day workshop in digital security and safety which saw twelve (12) Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) drawn from the three countries was implemented in collaboration with Techsoup from 20-22 March 2023.
The workshop took place simultaneously in the three countries and would strengthen the capacity of the participants to effectively protect their personal and organisations’digital assets and contribute towards addressing issues of cyber-attacks in the civic space.
CSOs in Cameroon that participated in the workshop were Local Youth CornerCameroon, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, AfroLeadership and Partners for Relief and Development Organisation.
Some of the topics covered in the workshop included data protection, system monitoring procedures, data management, system access management and digital risks surveillance.
These topics helped the participants to gain insights into basic security procedures including the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), encrypted messaging, and secure passwords.
Akyeiri Bennin, Communication Officer, Local Youth Corner – Cameroon was impressed about the participatory approach used for the workshop.
Inspired by this training, Bennin could not conceal how inspired she is to champion efforts to guarantee her personal digital safet and promote the digitl security of her organisation.
“The training used participatory approach and that made it easy for us to contribute to discussions and learn from others. During one of the lessons, I discovered that my organisation needs more improvement in terms of data security,” she said.
In Liberia, organisations that took part in the training included Youth Alliance for Rural
Development, Institute for Democratic Action and Development, Africa Youth Peer Review Committee and Youth United for Community Development Association.
Augustine Kortumah of Youth Alliance for Rural Development in Liberia could not wait to pass on the knowledge he acquired to his work mates in his organisation.
“The workshop gave me an opportunity to better understand how the internet works and how to verify website addresses to ensure safety and privacy protection.
“I will transfer the knowledge I have acquired to my colleagues and even people living in my community to help them protect their data on social media,” he said.
The CSOs in Cote d’Ivoire were Association pour le Bien-être Communautaire
(ABICOM), Forum de la Société Civile de l’Afrique de l’Ouest section Côte-d’Ivoire (FOSCAO-CI), CIVIS Côte d’Ivoire (CIVIS-CI) and Réseau Ivoirien des Jeunes Leaders pour l’Intégrité (RIJLI).
Kouamé Armel Candela from Association pour le Bien -Être Communautaire (ABICOM) could not hide his joy after going through the workshop. He can now be able to develop and implement a robust digital security plan for his organisation.
“With the knowledge I have acquired, I am confident that I can create a digital security plan for my organisation,” he noted.
The participants acquired knowledge in the best digital security practices and how to leverage technology to improve operations and processes in their organisations without being exposed to internet predators and threats.
Kwame Asante, Project Officer – Marketing and IT Support at WACSI, who was one of the facilitators in Cameroon, helped the participants to better appreciate basic digital threats such as computer virus, unlawful intrusions, and data compromises.
He noted that technology is evolving and more than ever it is important for organisations to be security conscious.
“It is very important for CSOs to put in place measures and practices that will protect them against hackers and digital thefts,” Kwame said.
This initiative aligns with WACSI’s strategic objectives. The Institute is resolute to build the digital resilience of CSOs in West Africa to be able to effectively leverage technology to propel their mandates.
It serves as a response to a key finding from a study that assesses the digital safety of CSOs in the region. The study which will be published in April 2023 exposes the numerous threats CSOs are exposed to online. It strongly recommends that CSOs should be equipped with digital security techniques, and applications to enable them to operate safely online; a recommendation this training responds to.