NEPAD-PAP collaborate to tackle Cyber Security woes!




The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is distressed at the continent’s slow pace in reacting to urgent and crucial matters such Africa’s cyber Infrastructure.

Two South Africa based African-Union (AU) organs; PAP, being a legislative arm of the AU, and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)  have thus intensified their advocacy campaign, by engaging African Legislators on a Cyber-security topic during the March Sittings of the Permanent Committees of the fifth Parliament in Midrand under the theme; “Enhancing confidence in Africa’s Cyber-infrastructure: the role of legislators.”

The Cyber-security project is a continent-wide initiative led by NEPAD through its Regional Integration Infrastructure and Trade Programme, in line with the mandate to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of continental and regional priority programmes and projects.

The working session with MPs was aimed at discussing, refining and validating actions to be employed at regional and member-state levels to facilitate promulgation of the AU Convention on Cyber-Security and enhance confidence in Africa’s cyber-infrastructure.

NEPAD’s Dr. Towela NYIRENDA-JERE proposed various undertakings to the African Legislators. These include Cyber-security assessment; legal, regulatory and policy environment; capacity building needs; development of guidelines for the AU Convention; ratification processes; transposition of national legislation; advocacy, awareness raising and capacity building.

Reacting to the list of proposed engagements by NEPAD, the Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology, Rapporteur, Hon. Alhagie MBOW from Gambia reiterated and expressed concern over the sluggish reactionary pace towards Cyber-security. “Cyber-security is the future. We need more effort from member states to make sure that we ratify anything that has to do with it,” said Mbow.

Chris TREDGER, in his article “the stakes just got higher in cyber security” published on 19 February 2019 on WebAfrica, reported that “the global cyber threat landscape has evolved, the target area is much larger and a new wave of attacks, with crypto-mining malware leading the onslaught, which requires more focus on prevention and consolidation.”

On the other hand, institutions of higher learning and research institutes have issued a chilling warning against delayed action. Dr Brett van NIEKERK of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Westville was quoted at the 14th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, hosted by the University of Stellenbosch saying, “Concerns about cyber-crime being a huge problem in Africa and also in the BRICS countries have been tabled numerous times, but result in more talk than action.”

Ambassador Smail CHERGUI, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, addressing parliamentarians in a different meeting during the Committee Sittings, also warned that “despite continent-wide strides made to put an end to terrorism, the threat of terrorist groups attacking Member-States remains high with bio-terrorism and cyber-security as looming threats that are of concern to the continent.”

The Pan-African Parliament is expected to make a strong recommendation or resolution that will guide the continent when in the May 2019 Plenary Session.