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As Cameroon's Internet stakeholders debate on policy issues

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PROFILE OF CAMEROONIAN ICT RESEARCHERS / IST-AFRICA H2020

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The propagation of fake news on the Internet and its associated media has been signalled as a new form of cybercrime endangering democracy, free debate, social peace and national security in Cameroon. ANTIC's Director General, Dr. Ebot Ebot Enaw, drew public attention to the menacing phenomenon, 28 February 2018, in Ngaoundere while addressing participants at the opening ceremony of a three-day seminar to raise the awareness of the population of Adamawa Region on cyber security and cybercrime, organised by ANTIC.

The sharing of fake news - false information disseminated on the Internet mainly through the social media, has witnessed an upsurge in Cameroon, with the Internet awash with damaging untrue information against individuals, public authorities, industries, and government institutions.

This practice with its attendant consequences, "constitutes a criminal offence punishable by the 21 December 2010 Law on Cyber security and Cybercrime with sentences ranging from six months to two years imprisonment or fines ranging from five to ten million FCFA" Dr. Ebot Ebot Enaw underlined.

 

Given that the perpetrators of such crimes are largely ignorant of the legal implications of their actions, the seminar in Ngaoundere sought to raise the awareness of the local population on the dangers inherent in the abusive use of the Internet and encourage its safe use in a bid to ensure that the Internet effectively contributes to the growth and development of the Cameroon economy.

As data breaches, scamming, web defacement fake news dissemination and other cyber-enabled crimes are becoming increasingly rampant, the Ngaoundere seminar provided a unique platform to present measures taken  by the government to address these threats and as such contribute to the security of the national cyberspace.

Given that the human factor is the weakest link in the cyber security chain, public awareness is undeniably the key way to bridging this security gap. It is in consonant with this premise that ANTIC is conducting nationwide public awareness seminars aimed at giving local communities the skills needed to effectively navigate through the challenges they encounter on the Internet, capture the opportunities the Internet offers and exploit these opportunities to foster development.                                                          

The seminar for the population of Adamawa Region is the ninth in a series that ANTIC has already undertaken  with only the North West Region still pending to get the campaign hit a nation-wide coverage.

The campaign under the rallying banner -"Stop Cyber crime, together let's bar the way," was marked by the distribution of Internet Security Guides that target children and parents with an Information System Security Guide for the industry.

 At the fringes of the seminar which had convened participants from all walks of life, was a caravan campaign in primary and secondary schools, that got children and youths - majority of ICT users in Cameroon,  schooled on dangers of the social media and cyber security  best practices.

 

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On Monday, February 19, 2018, the new Director General of MTN Cameroon , Mr. Saim Yaksan,  was received in audience by ANTIC's Director General, Dr Ebot Ebot Enow.

Discussions by the two Chief Executive Officers  during the audience focused on the development of Cameroon's digital economy and the security of the country's cyberspace.

Mr. Saim Yaksan reassured ANTIC's Director General of his company's support to the Agency in the fight against cybercrime as well as MTN's resolve to effectively contribute to  the development of the digital economy in Cameroon.

Mr. Saim's visit to ANTIC, came following his recent appointment at the helm of MTN Cameroon and his decision to start off by meeting the various ICT regulators in the country.  

 

D.G. MTN Cameroon (L) and D.G. ANTIC (R)

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 The 6th edition of the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF), hosted by the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) of Egypt, took place 04-06 December 2017, at Sharm EI-Sheikh, Egypt under the theme “Enabling an Inclusive Digital transformation of Africa”.

The objective of the forum was to come up with a common agenda to be presented at the IGF World summit, in Geneva later in the year.

Over 300 participants drawn from the government, private sector, academia, research institutions, technical community, civil society organizations and media from over 30 countries attended the forum. ANTIC represented Cameroon with a delegation of seven (07) staff.

The forum was officially opened by Dr. Sherif Hashim, Vice president, National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Egypt and a welcome statement was also delivered by H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy, the African Union (AU).

 

Activities of the AFIGF 2017

The forum was organized as follows: one (01) high level discussion session, nine (09) plenary sessions and eight (08) parallel sessions.

The high level discussion session was moderated by Mr. Moctar Yedaly from the AUC with the main aim of capturing the perspectives of the delegates on the policy implications of digitization to enable an inclusive digital transformation.

Key issues addressed during the plenary and parallel sessions included:

  1. The role of DNS as a technology in the Internet Policy ;
  2. Connecting to the Next Billion ;
  3. Enabling the Digital Transformation of Africa: The Role of Youth ;
  4. AFEX Internet Freedom Reports ;
  5. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) ;
  6. Cyber Security in Africa ;
  7. Internet Universality Indicators;
  8. Public libraries rise to the challenge to connect the next billion.

The forum ended with a presentation of the recommendations of the AfIGF 2017 and Dr. Sherif Hashim, Vice president, NTRA, Egypt gave the closing remarks.

Outcomes

  • The African IGF Charter was adopted during the plenary session. Implementation of the charter will begin from the 7th AfIGF to be held in Khartoum, Sudan 2018.
  • The organizers of AfIGF are soliciting a Central African country to host the AfIGF 2019;
  • The African IGF equally expressed the wish for African countries to actively involve youths in Internet Governance activities and how they can digitally transform their countries.
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Some fifty (50) staff members of the  National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC),  have been trained with the view to strengthening their capacities in the fight against cybercrime. 

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