CSOs Equipped to Respond to Cyber Security Threats

CSOs Equipped to Respond to Cyber Security Threats

Civil society organisations (CSOs) across West Africa are showing innovation by using technology to advance their work. In fact, technology allows CSOs to communicate their agenda, mobilise larger audiences, connect with other CSOs and reach out to donors. Technology provides tools for CSOs to tell success stories and transform their interface into a learning platform for other projects.

However, a recent security vulnerability assessments conducted by Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) on 28 CSOs across Nigeria and Ghana revealed that the current crop of technologists in CSOs across the two countries are not adequately equipped to tackle the technical needs of the advocacy space. This dearth of competent technologists in the advocacy space not only diminishes the desired impact of the work of CSOs but also puts them at risk of cybersecurity mishaps such as data breaches and identity theft.

Digital security expert, Anthony Sule, Project Coordinator of CcHUB, reckons that “Attacks are happening but we have very few people who address that. We do not have enough digital security professionals who work with CSOs. There are many reasons for that. One of them is that certifications in cybersecurity are very expensive and when people go through the expense of getting certified, they really just want to work with banks or enterprises that would pay top dollars”.

It is within this context, that the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in partnership with CcHUB, organised a Community of Practice training from 17 February to 4 March 2020  in Accra, Ghana. The training was attended by 18 participants from Ghana and Kenya.

According to Franck Sombo, Head of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Unit at WACSI, “this training is critical because CSOs and civil society are lagging behind when it comes to technological advancement. With all the growing risks we are witnessing around digital tools it is important to build our tools to build our readiness and to be more responsive, creative and innovative to enhance digital impact so that we are not left behind”.

This training’s objective was to build a pool of non-profit technologists equipped with relevant capacities to support the work of CSOs. The training sought to enhance participant’s technological skills and enable them to be more resilient in the face of growing cyber-attacks and digital disruptions while supporting the social impact mission of CSOs.

The training combined both theoretical and practical sessions. It addressed topics such as communicating impact, digital security, computer networking, data analytics, Internet rights and politics, graphics design, as well as user interface and user experience design.

Participants affirmed that they were equipped to solve problems and create innovative tech solutions to tackle issues faced by communities and civil societies.

“I’m the IT support of my organisation and I believe there are so many good things that can come out from using technology in our line of work. So just, for example, IT helps for the dissemination of information, in presenting your facts, in appealing to donors, in content management, and so on. I saw the training as an opportunity to help me, give me capacity building in my line of work and in the future help me doing the work I do in my organisation. The key strength of the training was that I was able to collaborate and network with other people from West African countries,” said a participant.

The training is only the first step of a comprehensive programme that offers CSOs peer-to-peer learning that would translate to practical projects. The programme then gives opportunities for CSOs to take part in international tech conferences where they will be able to sell and market their project idea.

This training is in line with WACSI’s goal to promote technology for development in West Africa. Through this, WACSI seeks to embolden the technological capacities of CSOs and their staff and enable them to be equipped to meet up with global technological advancements. Through this, WACSI, a member of the Techsoup global network provides CSOs in West Africa with subsidised and donated technology products and services with discounted rates up to 95% of the market value.

About the author

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Yse Auque-Pallez holds a Bachelor in Social Sciences and Philosophy from Sciences Po Paris and La Sorbonne Paris IV since 2018, she is a Second Year Master's degree student in International Development with African Studies and Project Management Majors at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA - Sciences Po).

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Yse Auque-Pallez

Yse Auque-Pallez holds a Bachelor in Social Sciences and Philosophy from Sciences Po Paris and La Sorbonne Paris IV since 2018, she is a Second Year Master's degree student in International Development with African Studies and Project Management Majors at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA - Sciences Po).

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.