WACSI Launches New Report on the State of Digital Security in West Africa’s Civic Space
[Accra– 26 April 2023] – The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) on 19 April 2023, launched a groundbreaking research report which uncovered the state of digital security among civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa.
The report titled “ Landscape Mapping of Civil Society Digital Security in West Africa” among other key findings revealed that 31% of CSOs in the region experienced a digital security attack in the last 12 months.
Twenty-five per cent (25%) of attacks happened multiple times. From these statistics, Nigeria had the highest percentage of attacks at 10.75%, with Ghana following closely behind with a percentage of 5.38%.
It 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.
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.
It examined the state of digital security among 284 CSOs 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.
Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Afadzinu, at the launch, 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.
“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.
Access full report here.
Watch the official launch here.