Promoting Cybersecurity through Stronger Collaboration in Africa

4 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2018

Date Written: October 30, 2018

Abstract

Cybersecurity has become a growing cause of concern for stakeholders in developed and developing countries alike. As access to broadband networks expand (albeit more slowly in the Global South), countries’ exposure to cyber risks also grow. In Africa, the increasing availability of the Internet; relatively weak, poor or undeveloped cybersecurity strategies; cybersecurity and digital skill shortages; and a general lack of awareness of cyber risks and security measures are but some factors that make many developing countries more susceptible to cyber threats and harm.

Governments on the continent have generally been slower to adapt or tackle cybersecurity challenges proactively, while private sector actors on the continent could ill afford to neglect cyber threats. As a result, private sector capacity in dealing with cyber risks tend to be further developed than that of their governmental counterparts. Yet mutual dependence between these and other stakeholders tend to encourage collaborative efforts to promote cybersecurity. While public-private partnerships (PPP) have oft been acknowledged as central to cybersecurity (e.g. Bechkoum et al., 2017:6), what exactly such collaboration entails remains rather vague in both the available literature and in practice (c.f. Eichensehr, 2017:469; Carr, 2016:61). For a more realistic understanding of collaborations in cybersecurity, a thorough investigation of instances of PPPs on the continent is needed.

One example is Mauritius, which was recently ranked as the top country in the African region by the ITU for its Global Cybersecurity Index survey (2017). A case study conducted in the country shows that the country initially adopted a collaboration framework based on the PPP model. After approximately two years, however, the model’s lack of flexibility, overly prescriptive and time-intensive nature was criticized by stakeholders in the country. The approach was thus altered to one which enabled less prescriptive interactions rather than hierarchical collaborations (National Cybersecurity Strategy 2017). Interviews conducted with experts in the country indicate that the new model is considered a step in the right direction, although some improvements can be made to enable open engagement that is not monopolized by any participant.

Suggested Citation

van der Spuy, Anri and Oolun, Krishna, Promoting Cybersecurity through Stronger Collaboration in Africa (October 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3275125 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3275125

Anri Van der Spuy (Contact Author)

Research ICT Africa ( email )

Krishna Oolun

Independent ( email )

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