On 6 November 2018, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, opened a new school in Dakar, Senegal, to train African officials on cyber security issues.
This school, the only one of its kind in Africa, is intended to be a reference in the field. It will start offering training in 2019.
Mr Le Drian confirmed France’s commitment at the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in November 2017, where he stated: “This is an innovative project that seeks to build our African partners’ capacities to deal with cyber threats, whether this means protecting networks, responding to cyber attacks or fighting cyber crime and terrorism, all of which are real threats that are not confined to Europe or the United States. The risk they represent here in Africa is clear.”
The Internet is increasingly being used for terrorist purposes, to finance terrorism and spread extremist messages encouraging radicalization, activities which represent a threat to the stability of African States. The use of the Internet for criminal ends, such as extortion or bypassing transfer systems, is also a threat to security. As cyber space has no borders, this criminal activity can affect countries outside of Africa.
Temporarily based in Senegal’s National School of Public Administration, the new school aims to build the capacities of African States with a view to fighting crime, terrorism and radicalization, and developing digital investigation capabilities targeting cyber criminals. It also seeks to enhance regional cooperation between African countries in this field by harmonizing expertise and practices.
Short and practical training programmes
Most of the training programmes offered by the school will be short, ranging from a few days to a few weeks in length. They will focus on cyber security’s strategic dimension (legal and governance issues) and technical and operational aspects (information systems security, the fight against cyber crime and intelligence gathering). To help fight cyber crime, for instance, the school will offer diplomas in specialized digital investigations and digital tracing techniques.
A wide range of players concerned by cyber security issues
The school will provide training to high-level African players already in charge of digital security issues in their respective organizations, giving them the opportunity to acquire new skills. In particular, it will target executives and managers concerned by cyber security: intermediate- and high-level administrative officials, police officers and gendarmes, legal experts, judges, customs officers, public finance officials, IT specialists, etc. In the long term, it will seek to widen the scope of its training programmes to include African universities, civil society and the private sector.
A project made possible thanks to an interministerial partnership between France and Senegal
In Senegal, this project is under the direct control of the Presidency of the Republic and the National Commission on Cryptology. Various authorities have been involved in its creation and development, including the national police force and gendarmerie, customs authorities, the Senegal IT agency ADIE, and the Ministries of Defence, Justice, Finance and Higher Education. In France, the project is led by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, which received design support from the Ministries for the Armed Forces and the Interior, as well as advice and expertise from the French Network and Information Security Agency (ANSSI). This school has been set up as part of Senegal’s national cyber security strategy, which aims to secure cyber space by 2022. In particular, it will help the country achieve its training, education and capacity-building goals, in addition to promoting a security culture in this field.
France’s contributions to this project include funding for two French technical experts (the school’s future educational director and a trainer specializing in cyber space and IT) and the allocation of specialist IT equipment. The country will also help fund the regional vocational training programmes launched as part of this project.