West Africa Conference on Digital Infrastructure and Cybersecurity

Held in Cotonou, Benin November 28-29, 2023, the West Africa Conference Digital Infrastructure and Cybersecurity will explore the impact that digitization of data and infrastructure continues to have on the economy and peoples of Africa. Specific conference themes will include data standards and governance, artificial intelligence (AI), and cybersecurity. The event will focus on several key domains that will be impacted by the transition to digital infrastructure including education, financial inclusion, healthcare, and agriculture

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The digital transformation of Africa

The emergence of affordable mobile computing devices in LMICs has had a positive impact on financial inclusion for the poor, healthcare, agriculture, and beyond. Studies by the International Telecommunications Union reveal that developing nations accounted for 67% of the world’s mobile subscriptions by the end of 2006, with positive projections on future growth potential. A recent study by GSMA revealed that by the end of 2020, 46% of the sub-Saharan African population (~495 million people), had subscribed to mobile services, further highlighting the rapid and successful market penetration of mobile digital devices in Africa. Mobile devices represent one of several technologies that are accelerating Africa’s advancement towards a digital future.

The digital transformation in Africa poses many economic, technical, and societal questions such as:

  1. What impact with AI technologies such as generative AI have in transforming the manner in which governments and people engage in the digital space?
  2. How will the digitalization of African economies impact the cybersecurity landscape of citizens, especially those who may not be well versed in cybersecurity, but are nevertheless reliant on the digital technologies that play a critical role in their lives?
  3. How can we ensure that the shift to digital infrastructure advances the gender equity goals of the United Nations and other international organizations?
Panel discussion

West Africa Conference on Digital Infrastructure and Cybersecurity 2022

Conference outcomes and deliverables

The success of the conference will be measured by several outcomes and deliverables:

  • A ranking of priority areas/actions items focused on digital infrastructure and cybersecurity in Africa
  • The creation of a sustainable network of conference attendees/participants who will serve as advisors for future initiatives across Africa
  • A white paper that is developed as a result of input from conference attendees/participants
  • The establishment of new research teams that will advance and submit proposals to federal agencies
  • The broad dissemination of conference ideas and discussions to both the scientific community and society at large through social media networks and traditional news outlets.

Conference thrust on diversity and inclusion in digital infrastructure and cybersecurity

This conference is intended to motivate the need for diversity and inclusion in digital infrastructure research and practice in Africa. The conference focuses on bridging the gap in gender disparities in the digital transformation spaces in Africa, given the importance of these domains in transforming the economic landscape in Africa by providing more economic opportunities for individuals from resource constrained environments.


All times are listed in West Africa Standard Time (GMT+1)

Monday, November 27, 2023 (Novotel)

  • 6:00 pm: Official welcoming of international delegation and welcome remarks from the organizers
    • Conrad Tucker, interim director of CMU-Africa and associate dean for international affairs-Africa (5min)
    • Information Systems and Digital Agency (ASIN) Representative from the Government of Benin (5 min)
    • Ministry of Digitalization- Government of Benin (5 min)
    • Cultural performance (15 min)
  • 6:30 pm: Networking and reception with cocktails
  • 7:45 pm: Conclusion of welcome reception

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 (Golden Tulip)

  • 8:00 am: Registration
  • 9:00 am: Welcome remarks and conference outline
    • Conference motivation and outline by Assane Gueye, associate teaching professor at CMU-Africa (10 mins)
    • Welcome Remarks by Conrad Tucker, interim director of CMU-Africa and associate dean for international affairs-Africa (5 mins)
    • Welcome and opening remarks by H.E. Ms. Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, minister of digital, Benin (10 mins)
  • 9:30 am: Group photo
  • 9:40 am: High-level panel discussion
    Digital Public Infrastructure and Africa’s Digital Transformation: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Panel moderator: Ariel Sacramento
    • Panelists: Hermann LANSE (SBIN), Abdou Karim Jallow (Gambia Information and Communication Technology Agency), Emmanuel Khisa (CDPI), Serge ADJOVI (WDS Africa)
  • 10:45 am: Coffee break and networking
  • 11:10 am: Keynote address
    Personal Data, Data Protection and Data Privacy
    • Speaker: Linda Laourou
  • 11:25 pm: Panel discussion
    Digital ID: Adoption, experience, lessons learned?
    • Moderator: Gabi Adotevi (MOSIP)
    • Panelists: Charles Mugisha (ASIN), Mina Abdo (National ID Program Ethiopia), Cartsen Maple (Professor, Alan Turing), Oliver Twagirayezu (SMART Africa)
  • 12:10 pm: Lightning talks (7 minutes each)
    • Moderator: Emmanuel Ndashimye, CMU-Africa
      • Fiacre GBAGUIDI (Beninese Digital Infrastructure Company)
      • Mary-Anne Hartley (Yale University)
      • Lamine Badiane (Data Center National)
      • Augustine Kombieni (PNI)
      • Hervé HOUNDETON (PNPE)
      • Eric Umuhoza (CMU-Africa)
  • 1:10 pm: Demos/poster sessions (CMU-Africa, Epitech)
  • 2:00 pm: Lunch (demos/poster sessions continued)
  • 3:00 pm: Keynote address
    Financial Inclusion
    • Speaker: Olivier Twagirayezu, unit manager – digital trade and services, SMART Africa
  • 3:15 pm: Panel discussion
    Financial Inclusion: Foundations for a Digital Africa
    • Panel moderator: Ayodele OGNIN
    • Panelists: Momoh Sesay (Central Bank of Sierra Leone), Joel AFFOYON (International Bank for Industry and Commerce), Sabine Mensah (AfricaNenda), Kuassi Ayikué SATCHIVI (BCEAO)
  • 4:00 pm: Coffee break and networking
  • 4:25 pm: Panel Discussion
    The Importance of Cybersecurity in a Digital Africa Panel
    • Moderator: Jema David Ndibwile (CMU-Africa)
    • Panelists: Ouanilo Medegan (ASIN Benin), Vivian Nwaocha (National Open University of Nigeria), Momodou L. Kinteh (Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Gambia), Yenataba Kignaman-Soro (Cosco Africa)
  • 5:10 pm: Closing remarks and outline for day 2

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 (Golden Tulip)

  • 8:00 am: Registration
  • 9:00 am: Opening remarks by Conrad Tucker, interim director of CMU-Africa and associate dean for international affairs-Africa (5 mins)
    • Role of Associative Channels in Collaboration on Digital Issues between Japan and Africa: David Kpondehou, president and founder, Africa Diaspora Network Japan (ADNJ)
  • 9:15 am: Keynote address
    Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity in Africa
    • Speaker: Eric ADJA, president AFRIA
  • 9:30 am: Panel discussion
    AI for Advancing Digital Health in Africa
    • Moderator: Maximilien KPODJEDO
    • Panelists: Mary-Anne Hartley (Yale University), Eric ADJA (AFRIA), Conrad Tucker (CMU-Africa), Maissa Mbaye (CEA-MITIC)
  • 10:15 am: Panel discussion
    Transforming STEM Education in Africa through AI, DPIs, and Cybersecurity
    • Panel moderator: Ratheil HOUNDJI
    • Panelists: Oussouby Sacko (Kyoto Seika University), Lebsework Negash (Addis Ababa Institute of Technology), Tim Brown (CMU-Africa), Clotilde GUIDI (INSTI)
  • 11:00 am: Coffee break and networking
  • 11:15 am: Keynote address
    Female Participation in Africa’s Digital Transformation
    • Speaker: Maimouna Kone, CEO Dynex Africa
  • 11:30 am: Panel discussion
    Increasing Women Participation in Digital Transformation
    • Moderator: Rebecca KINDJANHOUNDE
    • Panelists: Cynthia Aissy (Epitech), Hermine Sèwanoudé (Sewema), Caren Katary (SBIN), Ruth Ikegah (Open Source Community Africa)
  • 12:15 pm: Breakout sessions/brainstorming
    Cybersecurity, AI & DPI Opportunities and Challenges Across High Impact Sectors in Africa
  • 1:15 pm: Lunch
  • 2:15 pm: Capacity Building through the Upanzi Network: Carnegie Mellon University Africa: Research and Education Opportunities
  • 2:30 pm: Panel discussion
    Funding Opportunities to Foster Multinational Collaborations
    • Panel moderator: Moise Bosugi, CMU-Africa
    • Panelists: Abiodun Ilumoka (U.S. National Science Foundation), Robert Karanja (CoDevelop Fund)
  • 3:15 pm: Coffee break and networking
  • 3:30 pm: Keynote
    Bacteria Genomics, Data Storage and AI: The Next Frontier of Technological Innovation
    • Speaker: Christophe Guyeux
  • 3:45 pm: Report-outs from day 1 and day 2 by breakout leads (10 minutes per group presentation)
  • 4:30 pm: Overview of picoCTF-Africa (5 min) and presentation of picoCTF-Africa awards: Ministry of Digital Economy and Communication Representative- Government of Benin (10 min)
  • 4:45 pm: Concluding remarks and path forward

Sponsorships and affiliations

CMU-Africa wordmark
CyLab wordmark
Ministere Du Numerique et de la Digitalisation Republique du Benin wordmark
Agence des Systemes D'Information et du Numerique Repbulique du Benin wordmark

Carnegie Mellon-approved contractors

Imotech wordmark
Africa Samurai wordmark

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