Kenya enlists Safaricom, Huawei in plan to plug cybersecurity skills gap

Kenya is among African countries facing a high risk of cyber-attacks, according to various reports, which have called for an urgent action to ward off the rising number of threats. The challenge is compounded by the fact the country, just like many African countries, lack experts to help government and businesses to create solutions against the menace.

Now the regulator Communications Authority (CA), Huawei, and Safaricom have partnered alongside Swahilipot Hub to plug this gap through a plan aimed imparting cybersecurity skills among university students.

Speaking during the launch of the initiative, Dr. Gilbert Mugeni, Acting Assistant Director- Innovation, Research & Development at the Communications Authority of Kenya, said the country’s cybersecurity capacity remains a major gap, with more than one third of organisations struggling to find competent cyber security professionals.

“Safeguarding our national digital space requires adequate cybersecurity capacity. We are therefore working with local and international stakeholders to develop our national cybersecurity capacity to power and safeguard our cyber space in all spheres,” said Dr. Mugeni.

Phase one of the training will be online and self-paced, while the second phase is designed to be instructor-led simulated lab work on enterprise security. The third and last phase will be an emergency response simulation exercise.

The sessions and courses are geared at preparing participants for a successful career in cybersecurity.   Dr. Mugeni said 238 students have already registered for the programme, showing the heightened interest from young people in cybersecurity skill sets.

Echoing his sentiments, the

 Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said cybersecurity attacks are no longer the preserve of a few sectors.

“No organisation and individual are insulated from cybercriminal attacks. Technology has become an enabler across different aspects of our daily lives leading to people increasingly living digital lifestyles. Initiatives such as the Pwani Innovation Week are important in ensuring that we continue meeting the future demand for highly qualified experts especially in skills such as cybersecurity,” he said.

With cybercriminal attacks getting increasingly sophisticated and a growing threat to sensitive data, the latest up-to-date knowledge and practical activities to hone their skills is important for cyber security students.

“Building and implementing end-to-end cyber security and privacy protection assurance systems is key strategy for governments, private sector organizations and individuals,” noted Fiona Pan, Huawei’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Public Affairs.

She added that the firm has found that more Kenyans were aware of data privacy and cyber security and are interested in prioritizing skilled capacity to deal with cyber security challenges.

Swahilipot Hub Chairman Mahmoud Noor, announced a national boot camp during the Pwani Innovation week aimed at tertiary learning institutions and community tech hubs.

“It will be a platform to identify and upskill talent in cybersecurity and ultimately connect them to public and private sector players,” he said.

Various studies have shown that small businesses, financial institutions, government agencies, healthcare, energy and utilities are some of the key targets for cyber-attacks. This rising number of attacks have raised concerns among governments and businesses, making the need for solutions more urgent than ever.   Experts say organisations need the right technical knowhow to not only manage security risks and controls but also maintain a robust security posture to identify and neutralize possible cyber threats.

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