Cyber security has many dimensions and people ultimately expect cyberspace systems to function in a trustworthy environment despite many potential threats. Different ways of thinking about cyber security entails liability laws coupled with new directions in education, training and operational practice.
Successfully combating cyber crime and protecting information infrastructures will also require international cooperation to promote the exchange of experience, identification and application of compatible norms and standards.
As Member States of the African Union increase access to broadband Internet, cyber crimes are leaping to new heights making it only rational to act now rather than later. Being wired to the rest of the world means we are now within the perimeter of cyber crime, making the continent’s information systems more vulnerable than ever before.
Providing penal protection to the system of values of the information society is a necessity essentially made manifest in the need for appropriate legislation to combat cyber crime.
The Extra-Ordinary Conference of African Union Ministers in charge of Communication and Information Technologies meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa from 2-5 November, 2009 requested the African Union Commission to develop jointly with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, a convention on cyber legislation based on the Continent’s needs and which adheres to the legal and regulatory requirements on electronic transactions, cyber security, and personal data protection [EXT/CITMC/MIN/Decl. (I)]
By endorsing the above declaration, the AUC together with UNECA started working on the convention on cyber legislation.
- The main objectives of the project are to:
- Define key cyber terminologies in legislation
- Develop general principles and specific provisions related to cyber legislation
- Outline cyber legislative measures required at Member State level
- Develop general principles and specific provision on international cooperation as related to cyber legislation
- Definitions on key cyber terminologies in legislation
- Harmonized cyber legislation and provisions for the African Union
- A draft terms of reference for the development of the Convention on Cyber Securiity has been developed.
- A series of workshops have been organized with RECs in order to submit the Draft Convention to the expertise of the Member States experts collecting from them their comment and input to improve the draft by meeting their expectations in terms of a consensus continental instrument on Cyber security. The first workshop has been for the Central region, with the ECCAS, in Libreville, Gabon, in November 2011. Among others recommendations, the ECCAS and CEMAC decided, in the way of harmonization of cyber legislation in Africa, to take into consideration the AU Convention when drafting their regional cyber legislation. The second workshop on the AU draft convention on Cyber security has been done for ECOWAS countries in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in February 2012. This step was crucial since ECOWAS region has already drafted the regional supplementary acts on related matters (data protection, e-transaction) and a directive on the fight against cybercrime. The main recommendation issued from the ECOWAS workshop is to request the AUC and the UNECA to continue necessary consultations to propose alternative in terms of legal instrument of the harmonized framework proposed. The last workshop on the AU draft instrument on cyber security was held in Addis-Ababa in June 2012 for the UMA, COMESA, SADC and EAC RECs.
- A webpage has been developed by UNECA where contribution, comment and input as well are gathered from experts in order to the drafting team to produce a final amended version of the document during the CITMC-4.