Securing African networks: The Africa Training Initiative and AfricaCERT sign strategic cooperation agreement.

The managers of the Africa Training Initiative and AfricaCERT today announced a strategic partnership to facilitate closer cooperation and training collaboration to build capacity in the development and security of African networks.

The partnership aims to impulse new dynamics into current training programs to address key challenges in cybersecurity in Africa.  The impact of the collaboration will be grounded in four core pillars:

  1. development and delivery of Internet security and related technology training through online and direct methods
  2. promotion of the research into malicious activities on the Internet in Africa
  3. building of threat intelligence through the collection, analysis and sharing of relevant data and metadata
  4. promotion of the establishment of Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) in National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and the wider African internet ecosystem.

The Chief Technology Officer of WACREN, Omo Oaiya and AfricaCERT President, Jean Robert Hountomey issued a joint statement: “Our agreement demonstrates that we are highly committed to establishing frameworks for building capacity to combat cyber criminals.  Statistics reveal that cybercrime is growing at a faster rate in Africa than it is in other continents with the estimated cost of cyber-crime to the global economy in the region of US$400 billion1.  By joining forces and leveraging the growth of NREN capability, we add muscle to our respective development strategies and fuel the delivery of a shared mission to develop solutions to challenges to the safety of the burgeoning African Internet.”

The Africa Training Initiative (ATI), a project operating under the auspices of WACREN and the UbuntuNet Alliance, the regional RENs for Western and Central Africa and for Southern and Eastern Africa respectively, is an independent community initiative developed and previously operated by Eko-Konnect, a cluster of the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) in the Lagos area. 

The ATI, which is facilitated and supported through the NREN members, promotes adoption of best practices in building and protecting the Internet as well as fostering the emergence of a productive environment for the growing community of African users.  ATI will provide a sustainable capacity building ecosystem for African professionals through training and input into university programs, student involvement, industry participation, fostering Internet research and support structures such as Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and Network Operators Groups (NOGs).

AfricaCERT, a public benefit, not-for-profit corporation providing a forum for cooperation and the exchange of technical information between operators of Internet-connected networks in Africa, aims to propose solutions to challenges for Internet health in Af* Internet ecosystem.  It is the African forum of computer emergency response teams who cooperatively handle computer security incidents and promotes incident prevention programs.

Cybersecurity is a broad concept that encompasses fighting crime, building resilience and creating a safe environment in which individuals and nations can develop.  In this spirit, Africa cyberspace leaders have pledged to achieve the “Establishment of a Credible Legal Framework for Cyber Security in Africa” and AfricaCERT supports this goal by building operational capacity for investigations, mitigation and cooperation with partners in the global cybersecurity landscape.

1. 2014 McAfee Report on the Global Cost of Cybercrime