Developing cyber security in Africa

Developing cyber security in Africa

Africa is undergoing accelerated digitization, heavily affected by the development of digital services provided by both businesses and government. Over the past decade, many reforms have been implemented that have introduced e-administration, data protection and digitization of financial services, among others. On the one hand these changes have brought many benefits, e.g. by making citizens’ lives more comfortable, but on the other they have also introduced new cyber security challenges. These threats have no geographical boundaries, which means that cyber security requires strong international cooperation. Cyber Defense Africa is an example of such an effort.

Cyber Defense Africa is an institution launched in the Republic of Togo that is responsible for cyber security. Its creation was made possible through the cooperation of the Togolese government and Asseco Data Systems, which, through a joint venture, created the first organization of its kind in Africa.

Cyber Defense Africa combines the functions of the Security Operations Centre (SOC), responsible for the security of the country’s critical infrastructure, and the National Security Centre (CERT – Computer Emergency Response Team), whose role is to monitor threats from cybercrime and ensure the security of citizens, organizations and businesses using digital solutions,” said Paweł Hansdorfer, Director of Foreign Markets, Asseco Data Systems

The example of the Togolese state-private venture can be a model for other African countries. For it is important to remember that while the general principles of cyber security are the same globally, each country has its own characteristics and, above all, a different degree of digitization. The project in Togo, which is part of the government’s strategy for the digital development of the country, is an initiative that should be taken by every country that takes cyber security seriously.

We must remember that cyber security has a nationality. Each country can use global solutions and cooperate with foreign companies, but also needs its local component, local people. One could compare it to armed forces – a country may rely on alliances and conventions, but it must also take care of its own defense – said Andrzej Dopierała, President of Asseco Data Systems. In Cyber Defense Africa, all employees are Togolese and I think this example can be replicated in other countries – he added.

Such a model of cooperation between Asseco Data Systems and the Togolese government has been made possible by the business strategy adopted by the Asseco Group, which follows the motto: “We think globally, act locally”.

Poland is part of the European Union (EU), but still our salaries are lower than in Western Europe or the United States, which is one of our competitive advantages. When we start operating in a given country, however, we do not send people from Poland to set up our headquarters. Rather, we establish cooperation with local entities, create organizations to which we transfer our knowledge and experience, and leave the management to local experts – concluded Andrzej Dopierała.

The effectiveness of this model of operation is confirmed by the results of Asseco, which started its business operations 31 years ago as a 3-person team that decided to implement IT systems for small banks. Nowadays, it is a Capital Group present in 60 countries and employing over 30 thousand people, which will generate PLN 14.5 billion in revenues in 2021 alone.

Asseco experts were speakers at the “Sommet de la Cybersécurité de Lomé”, a conference that provided a platform for dialogue for representatives of the state and private sectors. Their goal is to cooperate and coordinate actions in response to the challenges of cyber security in African countries. The event took place on March 23-24 this year and brought together more than 6,500 participants from nearly 30 countries.