Cloud computing has been growing rapidly over the past few years, and has brought more benefits to businesses compared to the traditional technology dedicated servers. Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and OneDrive have become popular among internet users. However, experts say Africa is yet to reap more commercial benefits from the cloud landscape.
Speaking during a premier Cloud and Security Summit in Kigali on Wednesday, the said African countries must embrace new technologies and harness the potential of cloud computing to support reduce exposure to cyber threats.
However, Laura Chite, the chief executive of CIO East Africa, said that this will require understanding the value that comes with cloud.
“We’ve been engaging in cloud for a longtime, but the only difference today is that cloud is now both personal and corporate. Facebook, Instagram are ‘sitting in the cloud’, and people and businesses are using them. But having the ability to understand, evaluate and implement cloud computing is crucial for today’s business leaders, regardless of whether they operate in IT or not,” she said at the two-day summit.
The event brought together information and communication leaders from across the region to discuss the future of Africa’s digital space and what the continent can do to protect it. It was organised by CIO East Africa in partnership with Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA).
The summit also provided stakeholders a platform to share insights on how Africa can get value from cloud technology, and promote the continent’s digital transformation.
Cloud is the future
Chite noted that the beauty of cloud computing is that people reduce costs of investments, from a technology perspective.
The amount of data being generated each day is constantly rising, and businesses require a large exchange mailbox, e-mail archiving as well as access to additional storage, which cloud provides.
Experts said many firms were transitioning to technologies, like cloud computing, which they believe are reliable, support business growth and enable companies cut costs. That’s why Africa must quickly embrace the technology. Chite was optimistic that the “next big investment” Africa will make will be in data and cyber security, which she said is almost non-existent at the moment.
“So, the value presented by cloud computing may be compromised anytime. The problem is compounded by the fact that many African countries don’t have cyber security laws and policies,” she said of the low investment into the area.
“Every time organisations are hit by cyber threats, Africa is the biggest victim. Therefore, Africa must invest in cyber security to sustain the gains that we are seeing in latest technologies like cloud,” she added.
Cyber security is key
However, Mark Maraire, a participant, said there is still low capacity among African countries in understanding of cyber security, or the extent to which it might affect Africa’s transition to adopt cloud computing and other emerging technologies.
“Internet penetration in the region is increasing, meaning that more people are exposed to the internet and cyber security threats. However, many countries do not have enough capacity to deter these threats,” he said.
Fighting cyber crime
Jean De Dieu Rurangirwa, the Minister for Information Communication and Technology, said cyber crime is a global problem that is facing all countries, and must be fought jointly and responsibly.
“When you talk about security, responsibility is very critical. The issue of cyber crime is facing us all, and Rwanda is strengthening institutions and putting dedicated agencies in place to respond to this global problem. We are also creating awareness among our people,” he said.
According to Innocent Muhizi, the CEO of RISA, the summit aimed to share practical steps and insights in addressing information security issues and questions plaguing security professionals at all types and sizes of organisations.