05 Oct, 2021
Cotonou, October 5 – 8, 2021 – Trust and cooperation are two fundamental pillars of cy-bersecurity, and Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) are an important link in the chain. The establishment of CSIRTs is part of the ECOWAS cybersecurity agenda and is also one of the ongoing activities in the implementation of the project ‘Organised Crime: West African Response on Cybersecurity and fight against Cybercrime (OCWAR-C)’ funded by European Union.
The ECOWAS CSIRT week was organised in Cotonou, Benin to bring together CSIRTs from across the region to facilitate a synergistic environment where trust is built, encourage and promote information sharing and the use of best practices within the region so as to foster cooperation and coordination in incident prevention.
Ms Rabiyatou Bah, the OCWAR-C project coordinator, set the scene by recalling the objectives of the project and outlined the importance of ensuring there is capacity and capabilities in Member States to manage security incidents.
Dr Kouame Raphael Koffi, the ECOWAS Commission’s Ag. Director, Digital Economy & Post stated that the increased use of digital technologies including the internet has led to the proliferation of cyber-attacks and their sophistication and this has also favored the pres-ence of more malicious actors that have caused damages in the region. This justifies the implementation of the ECOWAS Cybersecurity Agenda which aims to support the digital transformation plan of Member States as well as secure the digital common market for sustainable growth in West Africa. He also mentioned that the availability of CSIRTs is vital in improving the cybersecurity environment in Member States. He ended by highlighting the strides being made across the region and reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to ensure that capacity is built and maintained to support CSIRTs that are being established or already in operation in ECOWAS Member States.
Mr Alessandro Tedesco, the Programme Officer for Security, Justice and Human Rights on behalf of the Ambassador of the European Union to Benin spoke on the benefits of digitisation being innumerable and undeniable but with it has emerged crimes that make the cy-berspace a high-risk environment. He indicated that the transnational nature of infringements committed requires a coordinated response, since no country can hope to overcome this scourge in solitude. He stated that expectations were high to meet the challenges of preventing and detecting incidents, hence the CSIRT week responds precisely to this re-quirement, by promoting an esprit de corps among CSIRTs and to establish the conditions for close cooperation between the national institutions concerned.
The representative of the Minister of Digital Technology and Digitalisation of Benin, Mr Ouanilo Medegan Fagla, Director General of ANSSI expressed appreciation that Benin was chosen to host the ECOWAS CSIRT week. He referred to the ongoing digital transformation across the region and highlighted the fact that CSIRTs in Member States are the first security actors of our cyberspace and therefore the police of these cyberspace and must therefore structure and organise themselves to be best prepared to respond but also anticipate cyber incidents. He concluded by stating that he hoped there will be cooperation links forged in order to create a response for all at the ECOWAS level that goes beyond the technical en-richment of the CSIRT week.

Member States