Technology experts in Lagos have raised concerns over the growing shortage of general digital skills as a result of brain drain in Africa. They stress that such development would further lead to rise in cyber-attacks and crimes with catastrophic consequences for businesses, governments, and citizens.
This was the consensus of panelists that at a recent meeting of the Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) which has as its theme: ‘Addressing the Cybersecurity Skills Quagmire’.
The experts advised that African countries must as a matter of urgency start intentional development of digital skills at all levels, smart technology support, collaboration with the diaspora and strategic supply of digital skills to Africa.
In his welcome address, the President, ISSAN, Dr. David Isiavwe, said the brain drain in Africa as well as the digital skills shortage currently being experienced around the world calls for concern.
According to him, “The cyberthreat landscape is still evolving. Cybersecurity space keeps getting very busy by the day. We have seen how daring cybercriminals can be, targeting both national assets and that of highly reputable firms. Even individuals are not left out. Consequently, it becomes imperative that organizations never relent in upholding and reinforcing information security best practices.”
One of the key speakers at the meeting, Mrs. Doyin Odunfa, who is the Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Digital Jewels, said that the shortage of general digital skills at all levels is expected to become more critical as economies grow; she noting that supply of digitally skilled labour must also increase to meet anticipated market needs.
Mrs. Odunfa observed that highly skilled African professionals have been leaving the continent to pursue lucrative cultural and socio-economic opportunities on other continents, leading to brain drain and skills gap on the continent. Proffering solutions, she recommended intentional development of digital skills at all levels, smart technology support, collaboration with the Diaspora and strategic supply to Africa and Western economies. “These young Africans are looking for higher-paying jobs outside Africa to escape socio-economic limitations such as poverty, limited infrastructure, and rudimentary jobs. They look for enabling environments in developed countries that provide rewarding businesses and obtain lucrative jobs, matching skilled individuals’ aspirations and expected socio-economic recompense. Many highly talented African students that obtain opportunities and scholarships of training abroad do not return home after completing studies”, she noted.
Other key speakers at the forum included the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Stanbic IBTC, Abumere Igboa; CISO, Heritage Bank, Eduje Ighoakpo; CISO, First Bank, Harrison Nnaji; CISO, Standard Chartered Bank, Oghenefovie Oyawari and Tokunbo Taiwo, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Digital Jewels.
The Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace. The society is involved in ensuring the security of Banking Systems and applications, ATMs, e-government systems and the entire cyberspace in Nigeria.
ISSAN seeks to achieve its objectives through awareness heightening measures, including the promotion of appropriate legislation and best practices. Its membership cuts across both public and private sectors of the economy, including Banks, Telecommunications Operators, Government parastatals, switching companies, IT and IT Security Consultancies, Legal Practitioners with a keen interest in cyber-related matters, Regulators.
ISSAN, which has existed for over 10 years in Nigeria, has proven to be a veritable platform for collaboration and exchange of ideas by members of the Banking and e-commerce public, especially regarding safekeeping of PINS, controls over passwords, access to the internet as well as steps organizations should take to always keep their systems healthy and safe. ISSAN, therefore, performs a critical role in ensuring that information security professionals find their voice on matters relating to their profession and in ensuring that all stakeholders are duly informed of the steps to take to contribute their little quota towards ensuring a safe society for us all.
IMAGE CREDIT: issan.org.ng