Botswana: 'Botswana Has Huge Cyber Security Skills Gap'

11 September 2019

The upcoming 5th Annual African Cyber Conference scheduled to be held in Gaborone next week is set to be a good platform for raising awareness or interest on the important emerging issue of Cyber Security, says African Cyber Security (ACS), Managing Director, Chris Johnson.

In an interview with Johnson this week on Tuesday prior to the much-anticipated conference to be held in the local soil for the first, he bemoaned a low intake of cyber security in Botswana.

He said African Cyber Security (ACS); a Botswana based company as a result has been set up to assist companies, government and individuals facing an ever-increasing cyber threat locally too.

Cybercrime, he said is one of the most critical problems facing businesses in Botswana adding that organizations particularly within the banking or financial services are big target of crime.

"More important area of concern again is that there is also serious shortage of cyber security trained professionals in Botswana hence this is worrying trend. Addressing of skills gap in this area is very critical hence our efforts of bringing together all key players to introspect on the upcoming conference, "he said.

He averred that there are less than 100 trained Information Technology (IT) professionals on cyber security insisting that this aspect in a mature economy like of Botswana is highly needed.

Further, he observes that there has been low or no integration of cyber security in majority of local institution with no budget or funding is being specifically set aside for cybercrime aspect.

He went on to indicate that ACS on its concerted efforts of stimulating awareness on cyber security and its associated effects, they have been forging partnerships with external forces.

Research, partnerships

One of the partnerships they have entered on is with the leading Kenyan based cyber security consultancy firm, Seriana that has since undertaken research on cyber security in Botswana.

In the survey done by the firm, the results also reflect that Botswana needs top urgently beef its focus on cyber security with massive investment is needed by organizations so as to strengthen their cyber security readiness.

The survey had polled 150 organizations across various sectors in Botswana; more than half of them have reported that they do not have adequate professionally cyber security professionals.

Moreover, the survey polls show that 40 percent of the organisations have never trained their technology on cyber security while 30 percent resorted to training only when face a problem.

As the local partner for Serianu, Johnson affirmed the need for establishing a robust cyber security environment locally also warning negative danger that shortage poses to country.

"The gap put us to be vulnerable to emerging three related cybercrimes issues. These crimes are intellectual property theft, fraud and cyber crush and it takes a need for how we react to cyber security. We work with universities such as Botho University and University of Botswana (UB) to introduce cyber security courses. However, a lot of strategic partnerships are still needed," he emphasized.

Cyber security laws

Johnson also said although Botswana is not much effective in cyber security awareness, it is crucial to appreciate that the country enacted cybercrime legislations which is a good advance effort.

He singled out the Cyber Security Act and Data Protection law to be good legislative pieces to deal with incidents relating to cyber related crimes hence calling for good execution of the laws.

The National Cyber Security Strategy (NCS) was also formulated by government in partnership with 2015 and was primarily set to provide a framework for a secure cyberspace in Botswana.

Johnson said the conference will also dwell much on cyber issues such as risk and compliance, threats and exposures, auditing, assurance and visibility amongst others as they complement law.

Kenya feeling heat

For his part, Daniel Ndegwa of Serianu said Botswana due to its high rate growing economy needs to brace for the cyber security threat which he says is much prevalent in Kenya system.

He said the crime in Kenya is gaining momentum due to the robust daily financial transactions courtesy of Fintech integration in the resilient Kenyan financial sector dominated by M-PESA.

M-PESA is a mobile money solution helping the Kenyan population who doesn't have bank accounts to send and receive money in fast efficient manner hence promoting financial literacy.

But Ndegwa says though mobile banking it's a good economic development has also opened space for cybercrime insisting that there are a number of cybercrimes cases before courts now.

"I have been observing that Botswana 'cyber security is weak hence leaving it vulnerable to attackers and since its election season a lot of cyber damage occurs. The economy of Botswana is growing fast hence putting the country to be hub of cyber criminals like Kenya due to the busy economic activity taking place, mobile banking is also taking shape in Botswana hence effective cyber security guidelines needed," he added saying cybercrime is cross border too.

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