Talking Cyber Awareness with Cyber221: a Senegalese NGO set on educating the population on internet safety

During the past year, the UNODC Global Programme on Cybercrime (GPC) has been working with Cyber221, a Senegalese NGO created by youths who aim to make Senegal a cyber-conscious country. UNODC GCP sat down with Mouhamadou Bamba Bathily, a Cybersecurity Awareness Analyst and President of Cyber221, to talk about why cyber awareness is important today and its collaboration with UNODC.

UNODC GCP:  Why did you create Cyber221 and what is the main objective of the organization?

Bamba Bathily: Cyber221 was born out of a realization that we are confronted every day with cybercriminal acts either in companies or within the Senegalese population. I believe digital education is necessary in all sectors to fight against certain types of threats, be it cyber-stalking or personal data leakage. Human beings are the strongest link of the cybersecurity defense chain, so it is necessary to equip people to face the different types of cyber-attacks as well as to inform and educate them on the safe use of digital spaces. Thus, on this journey to cyber safety, Cyber221 has set an objective to develop and expand digital prevention in Senegal in particular, and in Africa in general.

 

Bamba Bathily signs an agreement with the Global Programme on Cybercrime at the UNODC ROSEN Office in Dakar.

UNODC GPC: As a young person in Senegal, how has your journey been so far, since the launch of Cyber221?

Bamba Bathily: For me, it is a patriotic duty to participate in the digital education of Senegalese and to develop the culture of cyber security in Senegal and in Africa. To do this, we have made and participated in several initiatives in Senegal such as the cybersec100days: an international awareness campaign on cybersecurity.

We also created the Digital Ambassador program, which aims to reach the maximum number of young people and promote digital security awareness and the culture of cybersecurity, including through the Cybersecurity Awareness Tour, constituted of awareness sessions on cybersecurity in schools and neighborhoods. We are also involved in raising awareness on topics such as online child protection and supporting parents in digital education.

UNODC GPC: How did you start working with the UNODC’s Global Programme on Cybercrime and what has been the most memorable collaboration?

Bamba Bathily: Our partnership with UNODC started during our #Cybersec100Days campaign in 2021. The presentations given by the UNODC team members during this campaign raised the issue of awareness on social networks to our audience.  Since then, UNODC supports us in all our activities by facilitating the achievement of our objectives with technical and material support. This is how we were able to launch the Digital Ambassador program.

UNODC has been the main partner of Cyber221 since 2021 in its awareness programs to promote good practices on the Internet, strengthen the protection of children online and promote women in STEM and cybersecurity professions in Senegal.

 

Cyber221 receives equipment from the Global Programme on Cybercrime to support its awareness activities in Senegal

UNODC GPC: What are the future projects of Cyber221?

Bamba Bathily: Currently, we have just launched the 'Wadiour 2.0' program. It is a program developed with an appreciation of the complexities of parenting in the digital age. We offer parents realistic, digestible and engaging cybersecurity education sessions.

In October of this year, the recruitment of the second cohort of Digital Ambassadors will be launched and this time we aim to cover the 46 regions of Senegal from Dakar to Kidira with support from UNODC.

We are also excited because we are working on developing a comic strip called ‘La Famille Dof Net’; it u going to be very Senegalese, very African. The comic book will be distributed in schools, libraries and cultural centers in Senegal to support families with online awareness.

In this regard, we would like to thank UNODC for the equipment donation which will make it possible for us to develop this comic strip. We will of course continue to work to strengthen the protection of children online and develop the presence of women in the professions related to STEM and cybersecurity through various programs among others.

The Global Programme on Cybercrime is able to implement its activities in West and Central Africa thanks to financial support from France, The Netherlands, Norway, The US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement and the United Kingdom.