An IT Officer at the African Union’s African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), Richard Apau, has called on stakeholders of the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) to help build the capacities of African States to fight against the use of technology in spreading extremist ideologies in Africa.
“Violent extremist groups have become very active on the internet and have succeeded in creating an Echo-Chamber within the cyber space for the purposes of radicalisation,” he said at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Shielkh, Egypt.
Speaking on the theme, “The Role of Soft Power in Countering Ideological Extremism and Terrorism in Africa,” he explained violent extremist groups in Africa have become very sophisticated in the use of technology, particularly social media, in spreading western propaganda as well as extremist ideologies.
The IT officer stated “recruitment and training of vulnerable people particularly the youth who are very active on social media platforms into violent extremist groups are not uncommon. These have been made possible due to the vulnerabilities associated with cyber security protection in most African countries.”
On how technology could be used to counter extremism and terrorism in Africa, he indicated that the internet offers a lot of opportunities and advantages in countering violent extremism and terrorism.
Presenting on the use of technology as a dual tool to either promote or counter extremism and terrorism in Africa, Mr. Richard Apau indicated that, the fight against violent extremism has taken a technological turn.
Mr. Apau stated, “the internet can be used as a tool to disseminate counter-narratives to extremist propaganda and ideologies as well as detecting and blocking extremists’ contents on the internet particularly social media.”
He mentioned, African States must monitor the content of the internet within their jurisdictions in order to develop cyber security measures to fight against various cybercrime and cyber terrorism perpetrated using the internet.
Mr Apau, however, revealed that most African States lack the capability to provide defensive mechanisms against the use of the cyber space by extremist groups for criminal activities, hence the need to build their capacities to protect internet users in their countries.
Also speaking on the topic, Kenya-based Secretary General of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and Director of Arigatou International in Nairobi, Dr Mustapha Yusuf Ali, stressed on the need to address conditions that are conducive for the radicalisation of the youth into violent extremism.
Dr. Ali further mentioned the need to raise awareness for children and youth to accept and coexist with others irrespective of their religious and social status.
The World Youth Forum is a platform that brings together youth from around the world together with the decision makers and influential officials.
The 2018 World Youth Forum organised under three pillars of peace, development and creativity, was done under the auspices of President Abdel Fattal El-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt from November 2nd -6th 2018.
The forum which received over 38,000 applications from young people invited 5,000 young people and 345 speakers from 163 countries across the world.
Present at the forum were Presidents and Vice Presidents, Ministers, Government Officials, Ambassadors, Members of the Diplomatic Community and Representatives of International Organisation from across the World.
Other speakers included Minister of Culture, Egypt Dr. Inas Abdel Dayem, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, United Arab Emirates Ms. Shamma Bint Sohail Bin Faris al-Mazrui, Member of National Council for Combating Terrorism and Extremism and Director of the Egyptian Center for Thought and Strategic Studies, Brigadier Khaleb Okasha.
It also featured Tarek Osman, Author and Researcher in Historical and Political Studies and the Political Counsellor for the Arab World at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as well as Mr Bledar Uku, Head of International Relations and Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Albanian Beder University.