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The 2nd edition of the Interparliamentary Forum on Information and Communications Technology of the ECOWAS Area (FITIC) held its opening ceremony at the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Center, Niamey, Niger Republic on 6 of November, 2020.
The objective of the FITIC is to strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS Parliamentarians on the challenges of cybercrime in the West African sub-region. The fight against cybercrime goes beyond national borders and requires a comprehensive response. ECOWAS Parliamentarians have a leading role to play in the harmonization, adoption of regional cybersecurity texts and their effective implementation in Member States.
The 2nd Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Honorable SANI MALAM CHAIBOU BOUCARY who represented the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament welcomed the commitment of the National Assembly of Niger in the organization of the 2nd Edition of FITIC. While delivering his address, he stated that, the program reaffirms the will of the Community Parliament to fully play its role in the fight against cybercrime which slows down the development of the digital economy and hinders the well-being of the people of the community.
Dr. Zouli Bonkoungou, Commissioner for ICT, who represented the President of ECOWAS Commission affirmed the Commission’s appreciation of the Forum and commended the choice of the program’s theme. He assured the participants that ECOWAS is not relenting its efforts to ensure that ICT services especially the Internet, are as secure and reliable as possible. To this end, the Community adopted 3 Texts of crucial importance to encourage the use of ICT. These are 2 additional acts relating to electronic transactions and the protection of personal data and a directive on the fight against cybercrime.
He further disclosed that ECOWAS has also initiated an Agenda on cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime in its quest to always support the development of the ICT sector. This Agenda aims to help Member States build their cybersecurity capacities, protect their cyberspace and critical information infrastructure, as well as build confidence and security in the use of ICTs. “For the implementation of its Agenda on cybersecurity, the ECOWAS Commission, with the support of the European Union, launched the project entitled “Organized Crime: West Africa’s response to cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime ”(OCWAR-C) whose 2 strategic objectives are consistent with the 2 pillars of your agenda, namely: (i) Improving the cybersecurity environment including the protection of critical infrastructure; and
(ii) The fight against cybercrime in the region.
In his closing remarks, President of the Nigerien National Assembly, H.E. Oussenni Tinni expressed hope in the organization of the program with heightened enthusiasm that the Forum will go a long way in proffering solution to the cybercrime menace. “My hope is that at the end of the time that you have allotted to yourself, you will arrive at the expected results, having exhausted all the angles of the phenomenon of cybercrime, by engaging in mutual enrichment through the sharing of experience with the aim of developing a draft action plan on strengthening the capacities of Parliamentarians and all stakeholders”.