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ECOWAS encourages engagement and cooperation towards the development of a digital economy at the 12th West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF)
Dr. Zouli BONKOUNGOU, Commissioner Telecommunications and Information Technology

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) brought together diverse stakeholder groups from the region and beyond at the 12th West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) to engage as the region strengthens its strides towards the ongoing digital economy development.
The two-day videoconference forum with the central theme ‘Digital Inclusion and Access in West Africa in response to COVID-19’ was convened from 22 to 24 July 2020. The forum aims to strengthen the active participation of various stakeholder groups in the Internet governance debate on the utilisation of the Internet, exploration of the digital landscape in the context of COVID-19, which included the impact of Trust and Privacy in the current COVID-19 pandemic, Cybersecurity and cybercrime in the era of digital cooperation and beyond.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Telecommunications and Information Technology, Dr Zouli Bonkoungou emphasised why Information Communication Technology (ICT) remains key to the realisation of a viable socio-economic West Africa, competitive in all areas. He noted the COVID 19 challenges currently facing the region and stressed the importance of proffering regional solutions to these so as to ensure that the development of the region is on the right trajectory with positive impacts delivered for the people. Dr. Bonkoungou encouraged all stakeholders to contribute to the ongoing conversations that can shape the development of the region.
The Minister of Information and Communications of Sierra Leone, Hon. Mohamed Rahman Swaray, represented by his deputy minister indicated his government’s commitment to scaling-up the development of the ICT/Telecom services to create a Digitally Inclusive Sierra Leone to transform their economy to a digital economy.
He encouraged open and honest discussions on barriers such as access to broadband internet which inhibit the digitally and socially excluded. He stressed the need to develop evidence-based policies that will address issues of opportunity, access, knowledge, and skill at all levels to create “digitally inclusive” societies were both the ability and opportunity to use online technologies as inclusive as possible.
The West Africa School on Internet Governance (WASIG) to coach the next generation of internet governance experts for the West African region preceded the forum.
The ensuing communique from the forum will be presented to the ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunication/ICT.

For more information and updates on COVID-19 across the West African Region, visit our website: https://www.ecowas.int/covid-19/
For more information, please contact:
Directorate of Communication,
ECOWAS Commission
Phone: +234 8102507938
Email: soulate@ecowas.int
Twitter: @ecowas_cedeao
Facebook: Ecowas_cedeao
www.ecowas.int
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