By Khalifa Hemed
Published June 8, 2017
Guidelines to help Africa create a more secure Internet infrastructure have been launched.
The guidelines, touted as being the first of their kind in Africa, were unveiled by the African Union Commission and a non-governmental organisation called Internet Society during the African Internet Summit that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, May 30-June 2, 2017.
The initiative that is reported to have been developed by a multi-stakeholder group of African and global internet infrastructure security experts is seen as a catalyst for change in the way African states approach cyber security preparedness.It will help African countries to strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, Internet Service Provider (ISP) or operator and organizational level.
Africa’s cyber security environment faces challenges like lack of awareness of the risks involved in using technology, under-investment, talent shortage and overload of data.
Though Africa may have achieved major strides in developing its Internet Infrastructure, says Dawit Bekele, Africa Regional Bureau Director for the Internet Society, “the Internet won’t provide the aspired benefits unless we can trust it. We have seen from recent experiences that Africa is not immune from cyber-attacks and other security threats. These guidelines, developed in collaboration with the African Union Commission, will help African countries put in place the necessary measures to increase the security of their Internet infrastructure.”
Moctar Yeday, Head of Information Society Division of African Union, observed, “This is another timely milestone achievement given the new security challenges in cyberspace. The Commission of the African Union will continue its partnership with the Internet Society on a second set of guidelines addressing personal data protection in Africa.”
International Telecommunications Union(ITU) of the United Nations estimated in 2016 that 25.1% of Africans are online and despite lower Internet access rates compared with other regions in the world, there has been a sustained double-digit growth in Internet penetration over the past 10 years. This growth is attributed to an increase of mobile Internet and in more affordable smart phones in the market and Africa’s young, technology-savvy population. However, to continue to improve access and connect the unconnected, people need to trust the Internet.
Symantec, a global dealer in cyber security, reported in 2013 that cybercrime wasincreasing in Africa at a faster rate than in any other region.
As Internet penetration grows in Africa and more business takes place online, implementing security measures against malware incidents to protect Internet users becomes increasingly important.