GIFCT and the National Cyber Security Center of Ghana Convene First Sub-Saharan Africa Virtual Workshop
Today, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), in partnership with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of Ghana convened over 70 stakeholders from tech, civil society, and government in a virtual GIFCT Workshop to bring GIFCT knowledge-sharing efforts to West Africa and lay the ground for in-person regional engagements in 2022. Focused on the terrorist and violent extremist threat landscape in the West Africa region and its online dimensions, this session brought together a panel of experts and practitioners to share their assessments on how the threat manifests online and discuss new and emerging solutions to such challenges.
Representatives from Facebook and the Institute for Security Studies, Regional Office for West Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin joined the panel alongside GIFCT’s partners at Tech Against Terrorism and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of Ghana. These tech, government and NGO experts discussed ways that terrorists use the internet, both regionally and globally, and examined specific risks of their use and exploitation of digital platforms to the region. This expert panel and participating audience further explored positive and sensible measures that can be taken to reduce the proliferation of violent extremist materials online and how tech companies operating globally and locally can adapt their counterterrorism responses.
The panelists highlighted where different sectors add valuable perspective to the counterterrorism space in West Africa. Representatives from the government of Ghana reminded the audience of the importance of regional engagement and the difficulties of balancing the needs to protect human rights and digital privacy, while also ensuring that law enforcement and wider security efforts are effective. Academic perspectives highlighted the real-world, offline threats to life and ground maneuvering of regional terrorist groups that cannot be separated from online trends. Meanwhile representatives from Facebook and Tech Against Terrorism highlighted that as larger tech companies improve countering terrorism on their platforms, activity moves to smaller, less regulated platforms that will need assistance from efforts like GIFCT. There is always more to be done, but efforts are more effective with cross-sector collaborations.
Today’s GIFCT Workshop, while virtual, marked the first GIFCT-hosted event on the African continent, and the first regional engagement organized since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since its founding in 2017, GIFCT and its partner Tech Against Terrorism have hosted GIFCT Workshops around the world, providing a more formally structured opportunity for tech companies and committed stakeholders to share counterterrorism strategies and knowledge. GIFCT Workshops bring together tech platforms with policy makers, law enforcement, civil society, academic experts, and practitioners to share experiences, best practices, and models for cross-sector collaboration. To date, these workshops have engaged more than 140 tech companies, 40 NGOs and 15 government bodies taking place across the globe including:
- Sydney, Australia
- Brussels, Belgium
- Paris, France
- Berlin, Germany
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- Amman, Jordan
- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- California, USA (x2)
- New York, USA
- Delhi, India
- London, United Kingdom
GIFCT looks forward to continuing its work with Ghana’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and bringing an in-person workshop to the region in 2022.