The ongoing digital transformation in Africa will not provide the desired socioeconomic advantages unless African countries provide secure cyberspace, the African Union (AU) Commission said on Saturday.
The 55-member pan African bloc made the remarks in a statement issued on Saturday.
The AU, which acknowledged Africa’s major headway in developing its digital ecosystem in the past decade, however, stressed that “there is still an evident gap among AU member states in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge, and capacity to deploy and adopt the proper strategies, capabilities and programs to mitigate cyber threats.”
The AU made the urgent call as cyber-security experts drawn from the five African regions gathered at the headquarters of the AU in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to discuss cyber security issues and challenges on the continent and deliberated on ways on how best to address the challenges.
The AU cyber-security experts’ group meeting, which was held for the first time from Dec. 10 to 13 in Addis Ababa, declared in its meeting outcome statement that “as Africans, we need to articulate our own Philosophy, Ethics, Policy, Strategies and accountability frameworks for cyberspace, cyber-security and Artificial Intelligence (AI).”
The high-level meeting also noted that ICTs are “the greatest opportunity for Africa to address efficiently and quickly some of its major development challenges, but their extensive use has also brought about increased cyber-criminality.”
It also stressed that effectively responding to emerging threats such as cybercrime and cyber terrorism “has increasingly become a top priority for all African governments.”
In January 2018, the Executive Council of the AU had endorsed the decision of the Specialized Technical Committee on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), to create an Africa Cyber Security Collaboration and Coordination Committee to advise the AU Commission on the cyber strategies and to implement the cyber security as a flagship project of the AU’s 50-year continental development Agenda 2063.
The committee, which brought together African experts in the ICT sector, among other things, provides recommendations to the AU Commission in matters related to cyber-security, cybercrime, cyber-legislations, online privacy and data protection as well as digital policy-related issues.