In the digital age, where technology runs through every part of our lives, cybersecurity has grown to be a major concern. As a result, people, businesses, and governments are now in danger from cyber hazards. This is also a result of people depending more and more on digital platforms for trade, communication, and the preservation of private information.
Challenges in cybersecurity
The issue of safeguarding data and privacy in the digital age is made more difficult by several factors.
The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Digital Age
Cyberattacks have the potential to seriously impair company operations and cause significant downtime, which can result in lost revenue and reputational harm. In the event of an attack, a robust cybersecurity programme can help to maintain business continuity and reduce the likelihood of cyberattacks.
Protecting vital infrastructure, such as power grids, transit networks, and water treatment facilities, requires a robust cybersecurity framework. Cyberattacks on infrastructure have the potential to cause terrible effects, such as fatalities and physical harm.
Africa is a continent that is rapidly developing economically. The region’s GDP grew more than five times in the last 20 years, from USD 695.88 billion in 2002 to USD 2.98 trillion in 2022. The GDP is expected to expand by 3-4% in 2023 and surpass USD 4 trillion by 2027. The demand for digital services and the Internet is rising as a result of the cumulative expansion of African economies, which shows the enormous potential of the continent.
In addition, the region’s digital landscape has grown faster than cybersecurity rules and regulations have taken shape. The security of vital information infrastructure in the African region is threatened by the growing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, which calls for immediate action to bolster defences. Neglecting to combat cyberattacks may harm people, companies, and the continent’s socioeconomic growth. In this research, we will examine the primary cybersecurity issues facing the African continent as well as potential solutions for creating a safe and resilient digital environment.
Digital transformation and cybersecurity challenges in the region
In recent years, digital technologies have spread quickly throughout Africa, especially in the fields of e-commerce and finance. This is particularly relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed a large number of workers to work from home. In 2021, 43% of Africa’s 612 million residents will have Internet connectivity. Furthermore, considering its youthful population (around 60% of Africans were under 25 in 2020), Africa has immense technical potential. This feature encourages new technology to be adopted. Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to have 615 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025, according to 2021 GSMA research.
Moreover, projections for the whole region suggest that by 2023, there will be more than one billion Internet users. The goal of the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa is to guarantee that every person living on the continent has reliable access to the Internet by 2030.
Leading economic sectors are embracing digital technologies and moving their operations to the Internet, including manufacturing, finance, education, agriculture, government, security, and education. Cybersecurity and protecting personal data are essential components in executing the digital transformation project, per the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa.
Nonetheless, the pervasiveness of technology use, weak cybersecurity defences, inadequate information security laws, and low public knowledge of the issue foster an environment conducive to cybercrime. Furthermore, a lot of African nations are struggling financially, which makes it challenging to set aside enough money for cybersecurity.
Cybercrime has increased significantly over the last five years globally; based on our data, the total number of successful hacks has more than doubled. There has been an increase in cyber events in African nations as well. With a 23% rise over the same period in 2022, Africa saw the highest average weekly number of cyberattacks per organisation in the second quarter of 2023. Cyberattacks can cause excessive outcomes for governments and companies, like the cessation of commercial activities, massive financial theft, and the disclosure of private information. Cyberattacks cause significant economic losses; in 2022, Africa’s lack of cyber threat readiness cost countries 10% of their GDP on average. This is according to ECA data. The absence of infrastructure for information security is one of Africa’s most significant issues.
Businesses in Africa lack cybersecurity procedures in almost 90% of cases, leaving them open to cyberattacks. As Africa undergoes a digital transition, experts have noted the need to alter how cybersecurity is approached.
A lot of African nations still need comprehensive information security laws, which makes it challenging to combat cyber threats and complicates the adoption and enforcement of cybersecurity measures. Just 39 of the 54 African nations have passed cybersecurity laws to date, and two more are still working on their drafts. The adoption rate of cybersecurity laws and regulations on the continent as a whole is 72%, which is the lowest rate globally. The African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection has only been approved by 14 nations.
About 75% of respondents from African firms in a KPMG survey stated that their cybersecurity strategies were either designed based on the organisation’s threat profile with quantifiable KPIs or revised regularly. Simultaneously, despite rising security investments, 78% of IT department chiefs feel that their company is not prepared to repel assaults. The severe lack of cybersecurity experts is another issue; as of 2020, there was a shortfall of at least 100,000 trained professionals.
It is projected that worldwide organised cybercrime networks will become more active in the region as Internet access grows throughout Africa.
Furthermore, because of the high unemployment rate, young people may join established cybercrime organisations to gain quick money. The more technologically advanced nations on the continent are appealing targets for attackers due to low cybersecurity awareness among the general public, insufficient organisational defences against attacks, and a lack of coordination amongst national law enforcement agencies.