Africa: Rwanda Hosts Cybertech Africa to Advance Innovation and Combat Cyber Crimes on the Continent

As Africa advances through technological innovations, it is becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing regions in terms of innovation and cyber capabilities. However, this progress has also led to a surge in cybercrimes, highlighting the critical importance of integrating cyber security into business strategies and policy considerations.

Recognising the challenges, Cybertech Africa 2023 was organised for the first time on the continent. The two-day conference, which kicked off on August 1, brings together key players from the business, innovation, tech, and cyber ecosystems, including dozens of companies, start-ups, esteemed speakers, renowned universities, senior government officials, C-level executives, industry trailblazers, and prominent decision-makers.

The conference was hosted by the National Cyber Security Authority in collaboration with Cybertech the Rwanda Convention Bureau, and Smart Africa.

Ahmed Afif, Vice President of Seychelles, commended the revolutionary impact of cyber technology on communication, business, and information sharing, emphasising that technology’s constant evolution offers immense opportunities for entrepreneurs to reach a global market.

He tackled Seychelles’ progress in IT infrastructure, mentioning that customs, revenue commission, and immigration systems were fully computerised. However, the health sector and internet cost are still challenges.

Afif commended Rwanda’s accomplishments and resilience in the face of difficulties, and stressed the importance of addressing cybersecurity threats and ensuring data privacy and security.

The Vice President further said that with a focus on benefiting the people, cyber technology could significantly improve lives.

The government of Rwanda has embarked on developing a cybersecurity policy and strategy as a response to the growing cyber threat and improving cybersecurity for individuals, businesses, critical national infrastructure, and government.

Speaking during the opening session of the conference, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, commended Rwanda’s efforts in enacting the Personal Data Protection and Privacy Law and establishing the Data Protection Office to uphold data privacy rights and compliance with international standards.

She highlighted the rapidly evolving cyber security landscape as a result of the digital revolution and increased interconnectedness in society, emphasising the rise of cyber threats, data breaches, and information security risks worldwide, including a 67 per cent increase in reported cyber incidents in Africa in 2022 alone.

Ingabire noted that there is a need for a harmonized and collaborative approach to mitigate cyber risks effectively, especially in protecting children from online threats like cyber bullying, child exploitation, and harmful content, and called for international cooperation in combating cyber threats.

According to Amir Rapaport, Founder of Cybertech Founder, collaborating with the ecosystem in Africa is a priority for the firm, as Africa is a new continent with rapid growth, a driven workforce, and stands at the forefront of global cyber innovation.

He emphasised that cyber is not just about threats but also presents significant opportunities, especially for Africa, as it enables connectivity and information sharing across distant places, benefiting the continent’s young population.

Over the last decade, Cybertech Global has been the cyber industry’s leading networking platform, holding industry-related events around the globe, and bringing international experience and exceptional field expertise to the presented audience.

Rapaport stressed the importance of collaboration rather than competition in the cyber realm, adding that they will consider the possibility of rotating Cybertech Africa in different African countries.

Cybertech Africa 2023 includes an exhibition of innovative cyber companies from various fields, as well as bankathon and hackathon within the exhibition area to increase exposure to international and pan-African markets, industry executives, and thought leaders, and encourage participation in a rapidly growing innovative ecosystem.

David Kanamugire, CEO of National Cyber Security Authority Kanamugire, said that futuristic technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics have become a reality, rapidly shaping Africa’s future.