Cybersecurity skills shortage in Africa

Posted on January 11, 2018 12:46 am

Africa is facing a serious shortage of human resources in information technology including cybersecurity experts according to the latest data your blogger has seen. The shortage of cyber security professionals is impacting Africa as governments, corporations and businesses compete for talent, in response to an increasing number of attacks.According to 2016 data, almost 70 per cent of businesses experienced at least one disruptive security breach a month in 2016, compared to just 42 per cent in 2015.In a sign of just how urgent the skills shortage has become, major African companies are seeking a greater degree of involvement in education and training to ensure graduates are job-ready as soon as they complete their studies.Companies across a wide range of industries using IT are struggling to secure talented workers, while shopping and services are increasingly going online and the use of artificial intelligence is slowly expanding. If the issue is not addressed promptly, it may have a negative impact on African government’s growth strategy. The rising threat level has sparked a hiring frenzy with employers gobbling up IT students often before they graduate.On the other hand, for IT engineers themselves, the job market is bright. All companies are facing a shortage of engineers. According to an estimate, the shortage of IT workers will reach about 9,000,000 in 2020 and 17,000,000 in 2025 across the continent. The shortage became evident few years ago, but the situation has been exacerbated recently as the development of new services utilizing IT is expanding across a variety of industries, from the manufacturing sector to financial businesses to the distribution industry. As an increasing number of people go online to shop, many African companies are putting efforts into creating websites designed for e-commerce and apps for mobile shopping. In the convenience store industry, the use of IT is accelerating, including with the introduction of unmanned check-out counters.

The skills shortage is widespread, with advertised positions ranging from entry level security analysts, who typically earn around $50,000, to software engineers and IT managers on six-figure salaries.Major companies are trying every possible means to secure workers. Your blogger spoke to a director of a company which promotes itself as one of the largest IT and telecommunication recruitment company in the region about the shortage and he said the problem is likely to get worse and expect that it could be quite a severe shortage in a couple of years’ time, as demand continues to exceed supply of candidates.The Cape Town native puts the trend down to small and medium-sized businesses shifting away from cash transactions and paperwork. The big buzz word, he said, is what he’d call digital transformation, which is essentially changing the way that organizations transact, from being manual paper-based transactions to fully electronic or fully digital.When I asked how his company gets to recruit thousands of graduates annually, he said that his company hold seminars for university students who are interested in IT. The company apparently aims is to secure talented prospective employees who have experience in app development and other IT fields.The recruiter also tries to attract IT workers through its recruiting websites and social media sites.He does believe that in his country, the South African government’s growth strategy should embrace enhanced corporate productivity through artificial intelligence analysis of data obtained from the Internet of Things although the current human resources situation could dent plans on realizing such a strategy. Notably, he said there have been calls for the need to foster human resources in the IT field, but measures for this issue have barely progressed as the government and stakeholders have failed to addressed the issue and now his company is being forced to recruit IT engineers from other African countries.There has also been an exodus of expertise from South Africa, with some of country’s best and brightest heading abroad to pursue exciting job opportunities and higher salaries on offer in countries like United Kingdom and USA.In cyber security, he said businesses are trying to build capacity and it’s quite important that they bring new talent.

Contador Harrison