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Africa in the age of Cyber Security:Diaspora ups stakes on issues & way forward

November 4, 2016

By Ajong Mbapndah L

logo_web-1As African Governments make light of issues concerning Cyber Security, Experts of African origin in the Diaspora are taking bold moves to raise awareness and proffer solutions.  Anye Divine, a Cameroonian born US based Cyber Security Expert and Consultant supporting the Federal Government ,says this is one area where African governments could make ample use of the expertise of its diaspora.

Anye, who leads the Africa Diaspora Cyber Security Initiative (ADCI), is at the forefront of an upcoming Forum in Greenbelt, MD, on how to engage the African Diaspora in Cyber Security initiatives at home and abroad. Expected at the Forum are Cyber Security Experts ,Companies, Diplomats, students, and many others who work in the field of business and technology. The Forum is also expected to have an overview of the opportunities that abound for Cyber Security Experts in Africa.

Anye sees in the Forum the foundation of a bigger network of Africans at home and in the diaspora to take the lead in addressing Cyber Security Challenges in the continent. With the developmental, military, economic, and social challenges that the porous digital systems in the continent , Anye and his team are working towards the creation of a network of African experts whose talents could be be put to use in addressing the cyber security needs of the continent.  Africa could borrow a leaf from China and India in making better use of its diaspora to meet its development needs says Anye,who also manages a company called Infos Pro Solutions LLC

You are organizing a conference on Cyber Security in Africa, could you start by introducing yourself to our readers?

First, permit me to express appreciation for granting me this interview to discuss the upcoming conference on Cyber Security in Africa. I am Divine Anye, originally from Cameroon and a U.S based cyber security consultant supporting the  Federal Government . I also provide Consulting Services to private organizations through my company Infos Pro Solutions LLC. I am passionate about issues of technology, and cyber security been my area of expertise, my interest now is to share the knowledge and experience I have garnered over the years with Africa as the continent grapples with 21st century challenges.

You are part of the Africa Diaspora Cyber Security Initiative (ADCI); can you shed more light on this for us?

I actually started this Initiative and put the organizing team together, with the goal of  mobilizing Africans in the diaspora with skills and interest in cyber security to come together for us to find sustainable solutions to Africa’s cyber security challenges. There are brilliant and dynamic young Africans with talent that could help the continent. The broader vision is to eventually build a strong network of professionals in the field both in the continent and in the diaspora to take charge in addressing cyber security needs. We may be having this first forum in the USA, but eventually, we will love to invite professionals from  Africa, we will love to explore prospects of trainings to beef up the capacity of young Africans, we will love to partner with governments and Institutions of Higher learning. Cyber Security is growing in importance across the globe and it is my believe and that of others in the organizing committee that Africa must not be left behind. Africa should be able to build its own pool of expertise and hopefully the upcoming Conference lays the foundation for a sustainable path forward towards meeting the cyber security needs of the continent.

Why the interest in Cyber security, many will ask the question what has this got to do with Africa or why should Africans be interested in it?

Africa has a growing economy with under developed cyber capability so they cannot adequately benefit from the potentials that come with the use of the cyber space. African nations have vulnerable Information Technology systems, Africa is not well prepared for crimes committed using the cyber space, and Africa has not developed Critical Infrastructure Protection programs to support its critical information systems and lacks the work force to support such systems. So we think it’s important for African nations to tap into their rich Diaspora capability to start addressing these challenges. The capability of its diaspora can be beneficial in multiple forms. The expertise is there, and it is not just services offered but broader prospects like trainings, designing programs  for institutions of higher learning. As the continent goes increasingly digital, this could definitely be a big source of employment.

As important as you make this sound, how serious are African governments treating Cyber security issues?

African governments are not treating cyber security as seriously as they should. I believe one of the reasons is because they don’t yet understand to what extent they depend on information technology systems and what is the cost of the outages. They equally have not adequately measured how much development comes along with such capability and what  its value to national security is. Cyber security has economic ramifications, it is a development issue, it is a national security issue especially with the growing threats of terrorism. By not paying sufficient attention to cyber security, I make bold to say African governments are making a huge mistake.

About the Conference you are hosting in Greenbelt, who is expected to attend and to folks out there who are interested what do they need to do to be part of the Conference?

 

Anye Divine

Anye Divine

We expect African government representatives, Diaspora leaders, US Government representatives, Cyber security Subject Matter Experts, Academia, businesses and organizations interested in doing business in Africa. We are gratified with the response and excitement that the conference is generating. A  broad segment of the African Diplomatic community in Washington, DC, has expressed interest, there are companies that have expressed interest, and we can assure participants that the conference will also provide  a good avenue for networking .More information on the conference is available online including contacts where any inquiries could be directed to.

What do you project as the outcome, and what steps will you be taking after that to ensure that African countries take issues of cyber security seriously?

As I earlier mentioned,  identifying possible means of getting the diaspora involved, developing collaboration between the governments of USA, African nations, Academia and Subject matter experts to find sustainable ways of improving and developing  African based cyber capability that meets current standards is our major goal. Beyond that, hopefully the network of professionals we plan to build and the broad outreach we plan to do across the continent helps in raising awareness

You are based in the diaspora, and though on Africa, the conference is taking place out of the continent, what networks do you have to ensure that all the good work you are doing has the desired effect where it matters-in Africa?

We expect to work together with the representatives of African nations here in the USA, we expect to identify points of contacts in Africa and develop frameworks on which we can work together. In the digital age, distance is no more a deterrence to any great idea.

Speaking of the diaspora, what role do you see Africans based out of the continent playing in the development of the continent?

I see Africans based out of the continent contributing tremendously to the development of the continent if only they can be organized. They know the culture and can work with more passion and pride to improve the living conditions of those they left behind. Remember many of those left behind are still our relatives. It’s our duty to help the community we left behind to the best of our abilities. whether here in the USA or in Africa, it is always appropriate to give back to your community. Africans do a pretty good job at this already, you find groups here involved in building or equipping schools, hospitals. The remittances that go back to Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia, I mean most parts of Africa literally sustain some families. I will however challenge African governments to learn from countries like China and India when it comes to turning the diaspora to a catalyst for sustainable development. Rather than been shunned or viewed with distrust because of bogus political calculations, the diaspora should be a fundamental actor and partner in the development of Africa. It is my believe that beyond the things that diaspora Africans do at the level of support to families and local communities, we need to think big and conceive projects which cover countries as a whole and the entire continent. This is one of the reasons we are thinking of a broader network of cyber security professionals whose activities will provide services across the length and breadth of Africa.

We also understand that you run a consultancy on technology and computer related issues, mind telling us something about this?

I am the CEO of Infos Pro Solutions LLC, it is a Cyber security firm based in Washington DC metro which supports Federal government programs and also provide training, staffing and cyber security workforce development.

As you prepare for this important conference, any last word to participants, and governments in Africa on the importance of cyber security?

Yes we invite government officials and all those who are interested in this dynamic field to come talk to us and the wonderful team of Subject matter experts we have put together, we will point them towards the right direction and show them where they belong in this massive challenge for African nations and massive opportunity for professionals.

Mr Anye,thanks very much for talking to Pan African Visions

We should thank you as well for giving us the opportunity to talk about cyber security and our conference, and we appreciate what your publication does to shed light on African perspectives. We Will gladly continue the discussion anytime you come back to us .

 

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