Our Director Prof. Sadie Creese joined a panel of global experts at the Paris Peace Forum 2021 to discuss how to leverage international cooperation for cybersecurity capacity building. The panel was co organized by Microsoft and moderated by Kasper Klinger, Vice President of European Government Affairs at Microsoft. The other panelists included Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere, principal Program Officer at the Africa Union Development Agency(AUDA-NEPAD), and Sabine Muller, CEO at DHL Consulting.
The Paris Peace Forum is an annual event that brings together global leaders such as head of states, intergovernmental actors, private sector and academia to discuss the most pertinent global issues. While in 2020 the forum focused on building back better from the pandemic, this year’s convening, with the theme ‘minding the gap’ had discussions centred around bridging equality after the pandemic.
The pandemic has made countries and organizations more reliant on the internet and other digital technologies than we have seen before. There is increased digitization of government services, public health and education. The private sector has also leveraged on technologies such as internet banking and mobile money for transactions and created online platforms for service provisions. Consequently, from the consumption side, there has been increased uptake of digital services that help go around the restrictions of movements and physical meetings. For example, conferences have gone online and there is increased adoption of immersive technologies in different sectors. However, increased digitization also follows vulnerabilities. During the pandemic we have seen increased cases of cybersecurity incidences such as ransomware attacks, conference bombings and service downtimes caused by sharp surge of their demand. This affects the ability of countries to recover from the pandemic.
Dr Towela Nyirenda mentioned the importance of cybersecurity capacity in achieving the aspirations of the Africa Free Trade Area(FTA) policy whose implementation began under this year’s Africa Union regime. She expressed that the FTA will rely on people being able to trust services that were previously enjoyed in the physical world and now being moved into the digital space. There is therefore need to ensure safety in transactions and people’s engagements online. AUDA NEPAD is mandated with supporting the AUC in the implementation of priority programs and projects in line with agenda 2063. These programs include cybersecurity capacity, data protection and other initiatives regarding Africa’s digital transformation strategy.