USIU-Africa and YelBridges to launch Cyber4Growth report

By Taigu Muchiri

USIU-Africa and Yelbridges will launch the Cyber4Growth report on April 11, 2019 at the Freida Brown Student center. The report was preceded by a training of trainers on cyber security in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. USIU-Africa nominated two students to undertake the training inorder to improve their skill set. The Cyber4Growth project was launched to promote economic growth in East Africa by improving cyber resilience among organizations in the region. The project was funded by German government through KFW DEG and other German corporates - SEC Consult, Tuv Rheinland and CYRISO. The project offered private and public organizations in East Africa with hands-on training which is essential to raise the level of security awareness but also to promote the economic competitiveness of companies in the region. The overarching goal is to promote fair trade between East Africa and Europe where data privacy and cyber security are paramount for business.

A baseline survey carried in out in 2017 indicated that 95 percent of African organizations operated below globally acceptable cyber security standard. The cost of cyber-crime had skyrocketed from a $2 billion in 2016 to $3.5 billion in 2017. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania recorded a total loss of $376 billion. During the same period the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) reported that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow in Africa slumped to $42 billion in 2017, a 21 percent decline from 2016. The cost of cybercrime in Africa has a direct correlation with FDI inflows as well as the economic growth of the continent.

According to Palo Alto Research Center, there is a global deficit of over 3 million professionals in the industry putting over 65 percent of organizations reporting that they have a shortage of Information Technology (IT) staff dedicated to cyber security. In Africa, there are less than 10,000 certified cyber security professionals to protect a population of over 1.3 billion people across the continent. East Africa faces an acute cyber security skills gap; IT teams lack the know-how on cyber defense skills to defend their organizations against cyber-attacks.

In 2018, cyber security global spending on IT security products and services was over $114 billion, an increase of 12.4 percent from the previous year. On the contrary, the cost of cybercrime during the same period increased to $600 billion despite increased investments in IT security solutions. Reports also indicate that there is over reliance on IT security solutions by the organization forgetting that only 8 percent of cyber incidents are detected by the security products. However, these products do not seem to solve the long term problem of dealing with cyber security.

The report shows that that only five percent of universities in East Africa offer IT related bachelor courses with concentration in cyber security. The cyber security workforce deficit will only be addressed when the academia is able to churn skilled professionals from their institutions of higher learning.

The event will culimnate in the launch of the virtual conferencing centre that will build capacity in East Africa by setting up a cyber security center in Thika, Kenya to provide skilled security analyst to organizations in the region. The security analysts will be trained in-house to enhance their skills level as well offer security services to global companies and will provide global standards to ensure that the highest quality of work is offered. In addition, Virtual Reality (VR) will be incorporated as the security analyst offer awareness and training to clients.

Yelbridges is an East African cyber security company with its head quarters in Nairobi Kenya and a branch office in Ebene, CyberCity in Mauritius.

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