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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

ECOWAS experts endorse cybercrime standards

The Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) experts drawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the weekend, endorsed new standards on combating cyber crime in the sub-region.

This follows the conclusion of a workshop in Lome, Togo, organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The workshop also endorsed a roadmap for implementing the guidelines at the sub-regional and national levels as well as the proposed establishment of West African Council on ICTs to monitor implementation of these set standards and other matters related to the Information Society.

Champion Infotel gathered that the latest standards were developed by the ECA in response to a request made by ECOWAS and the West African Monetary Union (UEMOA).

In addition, it is aimed at modernizing the instruments for promoting e-commerce, preserving personal data and curbing cyber crime through the necessary sub-regional and national legislation.

Communications Officer at ECA, Makane Faye, also informed that ECOWAS Heads of States are expected to adopt the guidelines as directives in 2008.

Faye also quoted the Minister of Communication and Civic Education of Togo, Mr. Gahoun Georges Hegbor, while opening the session, noted that regions have to prioritise their takes in ICT based on the most important to them.

He pointed out that these priorities include e-commerce, data protection and fight against cyber crime.

He commended ECA for wanting to bring its support to ECOWAS, UEMOA and their member states to take into account the needs of the Information Society (IS), stressing that this will lead to a concrete operationalization of National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) plans in the region.

The current developments in ICTs within the region, it was gathered represent a major opportunity for the economic development of the continent, especially for boosting regional integration efforts.

Even as it could lead to the emergence of cybercrime and criminal justice systems in ECOWAS would not fully be equipped for dealing with the phenomena. The new guidelines are an important step in addressing some of the gaps in the justice systems.

The workshop attended by ICT experts cutting across lawyers, parliamentarians, private banks, economic operators, academia and economists from West Africa attended the workshop.

Just as ECOWAS, UEMOA, the African Union (AU) Commission, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), the West African Telecommunications Assembly (WATRA) and the International Organization of Francophony (OIF) also attended.

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