Serianu CEO William Makatiani www.businesstoday.co.ke
“Our research has shown that the skills gap is the biggest hurdle we have to contend with and each African country has unique challenges.," says Serianu CEO William Makatiani. [ Photo / CIO East Africa ]

Pan African cybersecurity consultancy, Serianu, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ghana’s InstinctWave to enhance awareness and uptake of cybersecurity by public sector institutions.

The deal, targeting more than 100,000 government institutions across sub-Sahara Africa, includes training and equipping public officials, especially those in charge of information technology, with key modern skills to counter rapidly evolving cyber-criminal attacks.

Serianu CEO William Makatiani said the two firms will derive value from the partnership by bringing public officials in a series of training sessions and conferences to share experiences, learn from each other and collectively gain exposure to better tools and technologies.

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“We are starting with the upcoming Africa Public Sector Conference scheduled for later this month on October 23rd and 24th in Accra, Ghana, that is expected to bring together delegates from more than 50 African countries,” said Makatiani.

He added that while African national and local governments had made significant strides in embracing the use of information technology to ease service delivery and communication, there were still major gaps in scaling up the IT officers’ cybersecurity skills.

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“Our research has shown that the skills gap is the biggest hurdle we have to contend with and each African country has unique challenges. It has reached a point where we must encourage knowledge sharing and build interactive exchange programs between countries in order to hasten the process of education and capacity building,” he noted.

His InstinctWave counterpart, Naphtal Akin said it was important for African governments to take a collaborative approach to deal with IT issues and especially cybersecurity. “They do not need to reinvent the wheel every time and a shared approach framework to technology serves them better as it reduces time and the overall cost of managing cyber threats,” he explained.

Cybersecurity policy

Akin noted that the 2019 African Public Sector Conference, themed “Enhancing public sector efficiency through digitization” will be hosted by Ghana’s Vice President His Excellency Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia. It is designed to provide a platform for professionals to share insights on industry trends, business strategies, and policies that articulate how ministries, departments, and agencies can work towards building a robust economy.

Other progress areas for the public sector officers include leadership and stewardship in the public sector, new reforms in IT and cybersecurity policy and eliminating barriers to growth and innovation. The training will also cover IT use in public sector service delivery and embracing disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, Cloud services and Open Data.

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According to Makatiani, public sector expenditure on IT and cybersecurity remains dismal as most national and local governments grapple with understanding the full scope of their exposure. He said that the only way for them to bring each department to a sensible level of protection from cybercriminals, is to invest in high grade system surveillance, access protocols as well as collaborative infrastructure. 

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