The increase in penetration of smartphones worldwide has been phenomenal. Participants at the Commonwealth Approach on National Cybersecurity Strategies workshop heard how Africa now leads in mobile phone subscriptions and is the frontrunner in mobile money transactions. It is expected that by the year 2025, 230 billion dollars will be transacted online.
The workshop, hosted and moderated by Shola Taylor, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), gave an overview of the work CTO has been doing to assist their members establish national cybersecurity strategies. While CTO is an Intergovernmental treaty-based organisation, participants opined that the role of assuring cybersecurity could not be tackled by governments alone without partnerships with the private sector, regulators and other governments.
Statistics show that Africa accounts for 4% of cybercrime incidences worldwide. These include financial fraud, government website attacks, software piracy and use of ICT in terrorism. Unfortunately, most of the African countries have not yet developed their national cybersecurity strategies. Attacks were on the rise, and were evolving with the growth of cable infrastructure, mobile money transfer and social media. Mr Taylor therefore called for increased partnership among stakeholders to tackle cybersecurity. He recommended the establishment of legal frameworks for cybersecurity, the use of technology to enforce cybersecurity, harmonisation of regional laws and cooperation among states to tackle cross border cybercrimes. Best practices, such as the introduction of biometric identification in Nigerian financial institutions, were also encouraged.
Capacity building was noted as the main challenge to cybersecurity and the various actors were urged to nurture a culture of cybersecurity among users. Mapping the level of capacity in the Commonwealth was lauded for helping to raise awareness on education and adoption technical standards. The CTO was challenged to enhance linkages with existing cyber security strategies such as the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection.
However, many participants felt that existing cybersecurity strategies were too focused on technology and were missing the human element. They called for the inclusion of other disciplines such as psychology and education in discussions on cybersecurity.
By Grace Mutung'u