PRESS RELEASE – Digital Insecurity Constitutes a Serious Menace to CSOs in West Africa: New Report Reveals

PRESS RELEASE – Digital Insecurity Constitutes a Serious Menace to CSOs in West Africa: New Report Reveals

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It has been uncovered that 31% of civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa experienced a digital security attack in the last 12 months. 25% of attacks happened multiple times. From these statistics, Nigeria had the highest percentage of attacks at 10.75%, with Ghana following closely behind.

The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) shared this discovery on Wednesday April 19, 2023, during the launch of a recent groundbreaking research report “Landscape Mapping of Civil Society Digital Security in West Africa.”

The study further revealed that, while 45% of CSOs were unaware of national laws and regulations on digital security, CSOs in the region faced a multitude of digital security challenges that threatened their efforts in pursuing their mandates.

This study was commissioned by WACSI with support from Mott Foundation.

Through concrete evidence and empirical data, the 144-page report demonstrates the terrible nature of digital insecurity among CSOs in West Africa and puts forth actionable recommendations on how to combat the menace.

The report, a result of extensive research work led by Evans Tindana Awuni, a Doctoral Researcher at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt in Germany, examined the state of digital security among 284 CSOs. These organisations were sampled from a pool of over 2000 CSOs across the fifteen ECOWAS countries, plus Cameroon, Chad and Mauritania.

Among other things, it assessed the most common digital security threats that CSOs in West Africa encounter; the level of exposure of CSOs to these threats and attacks, and their preparedness in tackling them.

It also shed light on efforts made by states regarding national-level policies mounted to address issues of digital insecurity while also looking into organisational-level digital security policies among the CSOs as well as the major challenges that hinder their ability to respond to these threats.

The report revealed that a higher percentage of the victims were community-based organisations and local NGOs compared to international NGOs.

It also came out that the majority of CSOs did not have adequate knowledge and training on how to protect themselves from digital threats and attacks whereas limited financial resources prevented many CSOs from allocating a budget for information security.

While uncovering the inadequate preparedness of CSOs towards responding to digital security threats and attacks, the study also found that only a small portion of CSOs (23.6%) had computer and information security policies in place. Even that, just a handful understood its contents not to talk of applying these policies.

Addressing over 100 attendees at the virtual launch, Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Afadzinu said the Institute, in its 2023 to 2027 strategy, has a priority of ensuring that CSOs in the region were adequately supported to leverage technology to promote their developmental initiatives.

This, she explained, informed the Institute’s decision to commission the research to gain a holistic appraisal of how digital security affects the work of CSOs in the region.

Although there has been considerable research work on the adverse and positive impacts of digitisation on CSOs, Afadzinu noted that the extent to which the work of civil society actors is aided or hampered by digitisation has not been comprehensively examined.

“While this is critical in informing and shaping the Institute’s work going forward, it constitutes a rich body of knowledge that can inspire a diverse pool of stakeholders to contribute, together with WACSI, to improve the digital landscape to enable the work of CSOs,” she added.

Presenting some of the recommendations, Evans Tindana Awuni, the lead researcher on the project charged CSOs to increase awareness on digital security, invest in digital security infrastructure and also train employees on digital security.

These efforts, Awuni said, are proactive measures to “prevent attacks, data breaches and intrusions.”

While the report boldly sets the records straight on the yawning gaps in digital security among CSOs in West Africa, it has the potential to trigger further research into key technological issues in the civil society ecosystem.

It comes as a wake-up call to civic actors and development players to become well informed and proactive in the face of fast-growing digitalisation especially in ensuring that technology does not become “a helper but an enemy” asset in the work they do.

Access full report here.

Watch the official launch here.




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


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


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


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 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 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 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.


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 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 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, 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 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, 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 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 is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised 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, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also 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.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


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 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 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.