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CAPE TOWN – African business owners who attended the World Economic Forum in Cape Town have flagged cyber-security as the biggest threat to business.

With the rise in adopting mobile and digital technologies, 94 percent of all the companies in Africa and the Middle East admitted to having suffered a cyber attack in the past year.

The forum was confronted with answering the question of how the private and public sector could cooperate to improve cybersecurity. 

Cyber-security, the protection of computer systems from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data is crucial to businesses globally.

According to The Global Risks Report 2019, cyber-security has been listed as one of the top five short-term risks for the future.

The realization of the digital economy is at the national level and is customarily delivered by the private sector. 

Cyber-security is a communal responsibility, and cooperation between the public and private sector can play an immense role in alleviating risks.

Leaders at the summit had agreed that the protection of communications infrastructure has to move beyond the conventional approach of involving the police and armed forces to include cyber-security. 

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Communication ministries can provide practical environments for the public sector to lead to national cybersecurity. The greater risks of cyber attack are that governments can now be brought down with just a click of a button. 

Leaders held the strong view that ministries and industries in the private sector should be intently involved due to the transverse essence of the digital environment. 

There was also more emphasis on the “ silo”  mentality’s need to be broken in order to achieve effective policy works and frameworks. 

Refraining from long bureaucratic processes to allow quick, adequate responses to surfacing situations is crucial.

Governments were urged to be at the forefront of the regulatory framework for public-private collaboration to thrive. 

Regulatory frameworks with imperative reporting can help the industry grasp the risks of cyber-security, manage and alleviate these risks.

Furthermore, a voluminous discussion on cyber risk within the broader context of risk is essential. The data connectivity supply chain can be explored as a trust system, and regulation can also establish awareness and understanding.

There was also agreement that trans-border cooperation will strengthen cyber-security in Africa. 

For example, there is an initiative led by the African Union (AU), which, inter alia, endorsed the AU Convention on Cyber Security And Personal Data the Melabo Convention. African countries lack ratification, dedicated funding will also grant for cyber-security to be prioritized and also enhance the capacity.

Africa should examine what is currently being implemented globally to enhance cyber-security, bearing in mind that the silo mindset may not be the best choice.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE