Rwanda hosts 4th Africa Cyber Defense Forum

By Esther Muhozi
On 16 November 2023 at 09:37

The 4th edition of the Africa Cyber Defense Forum (ACDF) officially kicked off in Kigali on November 15, bringing together the world’s leading cyber security experts from more than 20 countries to address the challenges facing today’s cyber threat landscape.

The ACDF, an idea conceived five years ago, has become a crucial platform for progressive business conversations, connecting thought leaders, experts, and organizations to address the challenges posed by the evolving threat landscape in cyberspace.

While officially opening the event, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire highlighted Rwanda’s commitment to safeguarding its citizens in the digital realm through the establishment of the Data Protection Law.

Minister Ingabire emphasized the significance of protecting not only the social but also the economic life of Rwandans through the safety of cyberspace.

She underscored the importance of continental conversations in making the digital space secure and highlighted the establishment of the Data Protection Law in Rwanda as a pivotal step in this direction.

“The importance of a secure and reliable data ecosystem cannot be overstated. It is the foundation upon which sustainable digital economies are built,” said Ingabire.

“Our recent AI policy recognizes the critical aspect of a well-protected data environment, emphasizing the need for sustainable digital economies built on the foundation of secure and reliable data ecosystems,” she added.

Among others, Ingabire emphasized the enactment of the Personal Data Protection and Privacy Law is a significant step in empowering individuals with greater control over their personal information, emphasizing the global threats with a 15% increase in cybersecurity crimes.

She stressed the need for preparedness, citing the shortage of cybersecurity skills as a significant challenge. Notably, the under-representation of women in the field, accounting for less than a third of the workforce, was highlighted as an area that needs urgent attention.

Ingabire further reiterated the importance of addressing gaps in regulations, with Rwanda taking a proactive step in this regard through the establishment of the data protection law.

The overarching theme of solidarity and collective action was reiterated throughout the forum.

Minister Ingabire urged attendees to share the vision of meeting the challenges in the cyberspace realm together. She likened cyberspace to our primary home, emphasizing the need to ensure its secure operations.

The Africa Cyber Defense Forum, with its mission to inspire and connect thought leadership, aims to shape the future of information security. The event’s focus on developing and connecting cybersecurity experts aligns with Rwanda’s commitment to leadership development in the field.

Panel discussions during the event, including "Women in Cybersecurity: Opportunities and Challenges," shed light on the underrepresentation of women in the field.

John Omo, the Secretary-General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), called for collaboration and putting in place strategic measures to ensure cyber security in line with the Malabo convention 2014 which asks for enhancing CS and data protection and tailored national strategies and efforts

Andy Chadwick, the Head of Africa Cyber Network for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, based in Nairobi, emphasized the need for international engagement in response to the rapid digital transformation.

Cybersecurity is now at the heart of the UK’s Foreign Agenda, with a vision for responsible and democratic cyber power to protect and promote a free, open, peaceful, and secure cyberspace.

The Africa Cyber Defense Forum 2023 serves as a critical platform for shaping Africa’s digital future.

The discussions and insights shared pave the way for collaborative efforts in building a secure, resilient, and innovative digital Africa.

The forum attracted participants from more than 20 countries.
The Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire emphasized Rwanda's strides toward a peaceful digital world.
Cyber threats know no borders; they surpass national boundaries. Regional and global collaboration is not just an option but an imperative.
The panel discussion on "Women in Cybersecurity: Opportunities and Challenges" highlighted the underrepresentation of women in the field. It underscored the importance of enhancing opportunities, fostering intentional mentorship, and challenging societal norms.
Andy Chadwick, Head of Africa Cyber Network at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, discussed the pressing issue of Africa as a primary target for cybercrimes and emphasized the need to address and eliminate this threat.
ACDF founder Mr. Gilbert Nyandeje emphasized that the establishment of ACDF is a realization of his dream, acknowledging that the journey to its fruition has been anything but simple.
Minister Paula Ingabire with delegates and partners of ACDF in a group photo on the first day of the forum.