CyLab Africa - Carnegie Mellon University Security and Privacy Initiative

A competition designed to introduce African students to the world of cybersecurity, held annually each March.

picoCTF-Africa 2023 will be held March 14-28.

Get ready for picoCTF-Africa 2023

picoCTF-Africa is a free computer security competition for undergraduate and graduate students across the African continent, created by security and privacy experts at Carnegie Mellon University Africa.

This competition is part of picoCTF, the annual computer security competition and learning platform created by CyLab Security and Privacy Institute. Participants of picoCTF-Africa will be ranked on an African-only leaderboard within the annual picoCTF competition.

Over the course of nearly a decade, picoCTF has become the world's largest online hacking competition. In 2022, nearly 18,000 people from around the world competed. The event has also grown to include several geographically-based leaderboards and programming, including Canada, Japan, and Africa.

picoCTF-Africa 2023

  • Feb 1, 2023 - Registration opens
  • March 14, 2023, 12:00 PM EST - picoCTF opens 
  • March 28, 2023, 3:00 PM EST - picoCTF closes


Team awards

  • 1st place (College: $3,000 USD, High School: $1,800 USD)
  • 2nd place (College: $1,800 USD, High School: $1,000 USD)
  • 3rd place (College: $1,000 USD, High School: $500 USD)
  • Women in Cybersecurity Award ($1,000 USD)
    Must meet a satisfactory level challenges solved and at least 50% of the team must be female

Sierra Leone-only leaderboard

  • 1st place (College: 5,000,000 SLL, Secondary Schools: 3,000,000 SLL)
  • 2nd place (College: 3,000,000 SLL, Secondary Schools: 2,000,000 SLL)
  • 3rd place (College: 2,000,000 SLL, Secondary Schools: 1,000,000 SLL)

Uganda-only leaderboard

  • 1st place ($200 USD)
  • 2nd place ($150 USD)
  • 3rd place ($100 USD)

Burkina Faso-only leaderboard

  • 1st place ($250 USD)
  • Best Woman in Science team ($250 USD)

Award and global recognition criteria 

  • Participants must be between the age of 13-28 years
  • Students must apply individually and join a team consisting of two to five students
  • Must be an active student in or graduated within the last one year from an accredited high school, college, or university. Students in the first year of study of graduate studies can also join the challenge
  • Teams with both female and male participants are highly encouraged
  • Participants have to be permanent residents and citizens of an African country to be eligible for the award

picoCTF-Africa is open to everyone. Students and teams that do not meet these requirements can still participate, but will not be eligible to win contest prizes. Please see competition rules for details.

There is no fee to participate. Students can sign up to compete through the last day of the competition. There is no limit to the number of teams that can represent a single school, and team members do not have to attend the same school.

Terms and conditions

  • All team members must meet award criteria for the team to be considered as a winner.
  • picoCTF-Africa reserves the right to request participants to present any documents that verify the identity and nationality of participants.
  • picoCTF-Africa reserves the right to request participants to present a notified letter from the school dean or student ID.
  • All registration will be done on the picoCTF platform
  • picoCTF-Africa reserves the right to determine qualification for certain award criteria
  • Any misrepresentation or false information provided by a participant will lead to disqualification of the team.
  • If the top-performing team is at least 50% female, that team wins both the team award and the Women in Cybersecurity Award.
Students at picoCTF-Africa Awards 2022

Students celebrate at the picoCTF-Africa 2022 awards ceremony

Train for picoCTF-Africa

View previous training sessions:

Cybersecurity in Africa

Today’s digital world depends heavily on cybersecurity. With little or no security, technology adoption rates would be low and fintechs would be non-existent. With the development of picoCTF-Africa, CyLab-Africa aims to address the need for capacity development in the field of cybersecurity, for Africa’s unique and fragile digital environment.

By participating in picoCTF-Africa, students will walk away with an understanding of cybersecurity skills and knowledge in reverse engineering, forensics, web security, cryptography, and critical thinking—skills that are needed in the security industry.


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More information

Contact us with questions about picoCTF-Africa or to learn about sponsorships

Learn more about CyLab-Africa

Learn more about CyLab Security and Privacy Institute