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New guidelines aimed to promote cybersecurity unveiled at African Internet Summit

New guidelines have been established by the African Commission as part of its effort to promote the topic of cybersecurity across the African continent. The African Commission in conjunction with the Internet Society unveiled the new rules at the African Internet Summit which was held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The guidelines have been entitled 'Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for Africa' - and are the first of its kind on the continent, the aim of the initiative is to change the way Union States in Africa currently approach cybersecurity. It was revealed that the guidelines were developed by a multi-stakeholder group which consisted of Africa's leading experts in global internet security infrastructure.

It was further disclosed that these new proposals and guidelines will help member states which include South Africa with the ability to strengthen its own existing security and internet infrastructure at local, regional, national level. Africa Regional Bureau for the Internet Society, Dawit Bekele said Africa had made huge progress in developing its digital infrastructure over the last ten years, and claimed the new guidelines unveiled by the African Commission represented another hugely progressive step.

He said: "Africa has achieved major strides in developing its internet infrastructure in the past decade. However, the internet won't provide the aspired benefits unless we can trust it. We have seen from recent experiences that Africa is not immune from cyber-attacks and other security threats. These guidelines, developed in collaboration with the African Union Commission, will help African countries put in place the necessary measures to increase the security of their internet infrastructure."

Head of the Information Society at the African Union, Moctar Yeday, declared that given the current challenges presented by the increased threat of cybersecurity attacks, the guidelines were both welcome and necessary, adding it was another 'significant milestone' for the African Union. He said: "This is another timely milestone achievement given the new security challenges in cyberspace. The Commission of the African Union will continue its partnership with the Internet Society on a second set of guidelines, addressing personal data protection in Africa."

Figures provided by the ITU in 2016 revealed that 25.1% of Africans now have access to the internet, although this is still lower in comparison to internet access rates in other parts of the world where there has been a sustained growth in internet penetration over the last 10 years. Analysts have attributed this largely to an increase in more affordable smartphones in the market and Africa also now boasts a tech-savvy population. However, to continue to improve access and connect the unconnected, people need to trust the internet.

With internet penetration predicted to accelerate, it's now more important than ever before that businesses implement security measures to combat against the threat of malware incident to protect its customers. Offering actions that are tailored to the African cyber security environment and solutions for an ever changing online landscape, the recommendations in the document launched can now play a key role in ensuring Africa can respond to the kind of internet attacks that recently paralyzed critical public and government services.