East Africa lacks adequate cybersecurity professionals

Posted on August 2, 2013 08:37 am

As the East Africa countries continue experiencing key infrastructure cyber attacks, the region is a laggard when it comes to creating a workforce of skilled and talented cybersecurity professional. It is even worsened by lack of infrastructure and investment. The region of over 135m people is lagging behind in its fight in cyberwarfare. Failure to adopt innovative solutions that stop attacks on government and key organizations is a uniform pattern among the five member states. Banks in East Africa are suffering huge financial losses as Price Waterhouse Coopers cyber crime report 2012 indicated due to heightened cyber crooks activities. The region’s cybersecurity policy that is yet to be launched and this means that five countries are not in a hurry on framing the policy that would go along in curbing cyber crooks activities in the region. It is not a secret that East African countries lack robust cybersecurity environment and no single country has created one. As the PWC report revealed, the region simply cannot even meet targets in curbing cross border banking fraud. Like in the developed countries, there is need in East Africa to develop a pool of professionals and build cybersecurity training infrastructure. This can be done through public private participation in the region otherwise the region’s cash strapped government agencies cannot combat the menace alone as the number of cybersecurity professionals in the region is extremely low.

Even in Britain, the head of MI5, an internal secret agency recently requested footsie 100 companies to work with him to fight cyberattack on key business infrastructures that has seen the country lose billions of pounds through industrial espionage. In countries like United States, Russia, China and Britain, governments invest a lot of resources to create cybersecurity talent and have been witnessing yearly growth in trained workforce. This means they are able to defend themselves much better incase of an attack.I also think there is need for key players to involve academia institutions of repute in the region like Makerere University, University of Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam University set up labs and foster competition to deal with cybersecurity issues which is absent in the five countries. For example, many government websites across the region are still exposed to “crackers” as proper investment has not been made to find long-term solutions. I have read several media reports that when government websites are hacked, some countries have been said to hire western countries based professionals to fix the problem yet such talent can be horned locally eventually saving taxpayers millions spent on foreign expats who are not always competent.However,I cannot entirely blame the government because there is hardly enough money to hire the right talent, to train them and defend their websites. To solve the problem, governments in East Africa need to start at all levels of society through comprehensive education plans.

Contador Harrison