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Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, recently unveiled a comprehensive strategy roadmap aimed at advancing the country’s digital transformation. While this roadmap outlines several key initiatives to harness the power of digital technologies, there appears to be missing something of critical importance. “Cybersecurity“
Honorable Minister Bosun Tijani, as we embark on Nigeria’s journey outlined in the Strategic Agenda for 2023-2027, which covers knowledge, policy, infrastructure, innovation, entrepreneurship, and trade, there’s an unsettling omission that demands your attention and action – the conspicuous absence of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.
In an era where cyber threats are escalating in frequency and sophistication, and as Nigeria strives to become a digital economy powerhouse, it’s crucial to address this blind spot. Cybersecurity is not merely an option to give passive attention to; it’s a fundamental pillar that underpins the trust and integrity of digital systems and services. It should be given the center stage by right of the hacker’s culture.
The hacker’s culture will not only accelerate any innovation but secure it when giving the right atmosphere to express itself. By the hacker’s culture I mean, the manifestation of the higher aspects of the mind in the form of ideas, customs, and social behavior driven by innovation in technology, security, and beyond.
Knowledge is the lifeblood of a digital economy, as a matter of priority at Nebitex Cyber Hub Africa it is giving the first position on Guiding Principles and Core Values (Knowledge as Armor). Nigeria is commendably focusing on digital literacy through the National Digital Literacy Framework. However, we must acknowledge that the digital landscape’s safety hinges on cybersecurity education, a facet seemingly overlooked.
The meticulously crafted array of policies, from the National Policy on Digital Public Infrastructure to the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, signifies a commitment to digital growth. Yet, these policies predominantly center on infrastructure, innovation, and data governance, inadvertently sidelining the paramount issue of cybersecurity.
The National Broadband Plan and the robust telecommunications efforts are vital strides towards equitable digital access. However, as the digital terrain expands, so does the threat landscape. Integrating cybersecurity into our infrastructure development is paramount to protect these substantial investments.
Your vision, as reflected in the Nigeria Startup Act, places innovation and entrepreneurship at the core of our economic growth strategy. However, without robust cybersecurity measures, the startups and innovations that emerge could be perilously exposed to cyber threats, potentially stifling their growth.
The ambition to position Nigeria as a major player in the African and global technology ecosystem.both commendable and strategic. Nevertheless, ensuring the security of digital transactions is paramount. Cybersecurity is not only pivotal for safeguarding businesses but also for establishing trust in our digital trade partnerships.
The absence of a dedicated cybersecurity strategy within these initiatives is a looming cause for concern especially for us at Nebitex Cyber Hub Africa. In an era where cyber threats proliferate, neglecting cybersecurity poses significant risks. The specter of cyberattacks disrupting critical services, compromising sensitive data, and impeding economic progress looms large.
As more government functions, businesses, and citizens embrace the digital landscape, they become vulnerable to cyberattacks. Recent statistics indicate that Nigeria is among the most targeted countries for cybercriminals in Africa. The absence of a dedicated cybersecurity strategy in the digital economy roadmap is a cause for concern.
We are keenly aware of current initiatives put in place by the Nigerian government such as the NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY POLICY, policies alone are not what we advocate here but a proactive approach instead of a reactive approach to cybersecurity.
Below itemize our recommendations:
1. Formulate a Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Strategy: Initiate the development of a holistic National Cybersecurity Strategy that encompasses all aspects of Nigeria’s digital journey. This strategy should include cybersecurity education, capacity building, threat intelligence, incident response, and collaboration with international partners.
2. Establish a National Cybersecurity Agency: Consider creating a dedicated agency focused solely on cybersecurity. This agency would be responsible for implementing the cybersecurity strategy, monitoring threats, and coordinating responses. It should also foster collaboration between the public and private sectors.
3. Integrate Cybersecurity into Digital Education: Incorporate cybersecurity education into the National Digital Literacy Framework. Equip students and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to protect themselves and the nation from cyber threats.
4. Cybersecurity Audits for Critical Infrastructure: Mandate regular cybersecurity audits for critical infrastructure sectors, including telecommunications and energy. Identify vulnerabilities and enforce compliance with cybersecurity standards.
5. Public-Private Collaboration: Foster collaboration between the government and the private sector to share threat intelligence, best practices, and resources. Encourage businesses to invest in cybersecurity measures and startups to develop innovative cybersecurity solutions.
6. International Partnerships: Establish partnerships with other nations and international organizations to strengthen Nigeria’s cybersecurity posture. Collaborate on threat intelligence sharing, joint cybersecurity exercises, and capacity building.
7. Data Protection and Privacy Laws: Enact robust data protection and privacy laws that safeguard citizens’ personal information. Ensure that these laws are enforced rigorously to protect individuals and businesses from data breaches.
8. Cybersecurity Awareness Campaigns: Launch nationwide cybersecurity awareness campaigns to educate citizens about the risks of cyber threats and the importance of practicing safe online behavior.
9. Incident Response and Recovery Framework: Develop a comprehensive incident response and recovery framework to swiftly address cyber incidents when they occur. This framework should outline procedures for reporting, investigating, and mitigating cyberattacks.
10. Investment in Research and Development: Allocate resources to cybersecurity research and development programs. Encourage innovation in cybersecurity solutions, particularly those tailored to the unique challenges faced by Nigeria.
11. Engage with the Cybersecurity Community: Collaborate with local and international cybersecurity experts, organizations, and academia. Leverage their expertise to strengthen Nigeria’s cybersecurity ecosystem.
12. Regular Progress Assessment: Implement mechanisms for regularly assessing the effectiveness of cybersecurity measures and strategies. Adjust the approach as needed to stay ahead of evolving threats.
Honorable Minister, as the guardian of Nigeria’s digital aspirations, I implore you to consider cybersecurity an utmost priority. Infusing cybersecurity into our policy frameworks and educational initiatives is not merely a defensive maneuver; it’s an investment in the resilience and sustainability of our digital economy. As we stride into this digital frontier, let us be acutely aware that a robust cybersecurity posture stands as a foundational pillar of progress and prosperity. The time to act is now, and your leadership can chart the course for a secure and prosperous digital future for Nigeria.
Web Developer | Cybersecurity Advocate | Offensive Security Enthusiast
Passionate about Personal Transformation and Offensive Security, I’m Emmanuel Okaiwele—a dedicated Web Developer and Cybersecurity Advocate. My mission is clear: elevating the “Cybersecurity Consciousness” of fellow Africans. Through my journey, I aim to empower individuals, fostering a safer digital landscape for our community. Join me in this transformative endeavor.