Promoting Cybersecurity | A Project for Africa

On August 16, 2021, Meridian International Center and the U.S. Department of State virtually welcomed a group of fifteen cybersecurity experts from across Africa to examine U.S. efforts to manage cybersecurity risk. More specifically, this project sought to highlight the importance of cybersecurity to U.S. economic and national security.

Over the course of the project, participants had the opportunity to explore cyber education and research efforts, as well as evaluate the role of the private sector in promoting cybersecurity. Participants met with federal government officials in both Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio, including representatives from the Department of State and various agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA), the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A virtual meeting in Los Angeles, California with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Computer Crimes Unit also provided participants with a local perspective on cybersecurity.

Meeting with the Los Angeles Police Department

A major highlight of the project was a meeting with representatives from the University of Texas at Austin, where participants had the opportunity to discuss academic research in cybersecurity in the context of American higher education. Highlighting the alliances formed during project, Confidence Staveley, Founder and Executive Director of the Cybersafe Foundation in Nigeria, stated that “The IVLP program afforded me the opportunity to meet with top representatives of UTSA [University of Texas at San Antonio]. We have now made significant progress in our partnership talks to bring experiential learning to the fellows at CyberGirls, the initiative under my NGO, Cybersafe Foundation.”

Meeting with the University of Texas at San Antonio

In a similar way, the strength of the newly formed connections between the participants should not be understated. The group described their plans to create an IVLP alumni cybersecurity committee in Africa; this way, the group can engage with the entire African Union and be representatives in front of the Parliament.

Reflecting on her participation in this project, Ms. Staveley emphasized the idea that “international partnerships are a must if we will win the war against cybercrime. The need to collaborate along the lines of cyber awareness, sharing best practices, intelligence, training, continent-wide policies/regulation, investigation/prosecution of cybercrimes, etc. cannot be overstated.”

Sponsors & Partnerships

Cleveland Council on World Affairs
San Antonio Council for International Visitors
Iowa International Center
International Visitors Council of Los Angeles
International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State

Project summary

Promoting Cybersecurity | A Project for Africa
Number of Visitors: 15
Regions: Africa
Countries: Algeria, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Togo, Zimbabwe
Impact Areas: Science and Technology, Security and Defense, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity
Program Areas: Global Leadership