West Africa Conference on Digital Public Goods and Cybersecurity

Held in Sierra Leone May 9-10, 2022, this conference explored the impact that digitization of public goods and personal identity had, and continues to have, on the economy and peoples of Africa. The event focused on several key domains that will be impacted by the transition to digital public goods (DPGs) as well as the cybersecurity needs that will result, including financial inclusion, healthcare, and agriculture

Follow along on social media by using #DigitalCyberAfrica and join the conversation on LinkedIn

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The digital transformation of Africa

While data acquisition and technology implementation may seem impractical for low to middle-income countries (LMIC), it has been demonstrated through successful IT infrastructure projects such as DakNet, developed by MIT Media Lab researchers, that low-cost implementation of data and communication infrastructure can be both practical and profitable in LMICs. 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.

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

  1. What impact will mobile devices have on the digitization of public goods?
  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 public goods advances the gender equity goals of the United Nations and other international organizations?
Conference panel at 2022 conference

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 DPGs and cybersecurity in Africa
  • The creation of a sustainable network of conference attendees/participants who will serve as advisors for future national initiatives
  • 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 DPGs and cybersecurity

This conference is intended to motivate the need for diversity and inclusion in DPGs and cybersecurity research and practice in Africa. The conference focused on bridging the gap in gender disparities in the DPG and cybersecurity spaces in Africa, given the importance of these domains in transforming the economic landscape in Africa by providing more economic opportunities for the poor.

View presentations from the conference

Conference organizers

Conrad Tucker headshot

Conrad Tucker

Arthur Hamerschlag Career Development Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

Assane Gueye headshot

Assane Gueye

Assistant Teaching Professor, CMU-Africa
Co-director, CyLab-Africa initiative
Carnegie Mellon University

Paul McNamara headshot

Paul McNamara

Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


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