Govt mulls autonomous cyber security agency

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Workers installing cyber optic cables at Kimihurura in Kigali. / File

The government is considering setting up an independent cyber security agency in response to the growing need for national preparedness to deal with.

According to the new Director General of the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), Innocent Muhizi, the move seeks to further strengthen capacities in the domain.

Muhizi was speaking while officially taking over the portfolio related to information, communication and technology, and skills development in ICT from the Rwanda Development Board, last week.

Muhizi said the gains made in cyber security in the recent past are no reason for the country to be complacent.

Rwanda was last week ranked second in Africa in commitment to cyber security by the Global Cybersecurity Index.

The report, released by the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency, ranked Rwanda second after Mauritius.

The report took account of countries’ commitment to cyber security based on aspects such as legal, technical and organisational measures, capacity building and international cooperation.

“Cyber security is a very big area, the Government is actually looking at ways to set up an independent agency that will be in charge of cyber security,” Muhizi said.

He, however, noted that currently, the country had some level of capacity to detect and respond to cyber threats.

“We need a certain degree of capability to be able to detect and respond to some of the security incidents. Can we say that we are absolutely secure? No,” Muhizi said.

He called for more investments by the private sector to help scale up national capacity.

“We need more investments to be able to build capacity as Government. The private sector also needs to build capacity as we connect and integrate the systems, one open window can compromise the country,” he added.

The local private sector has already begun responding to opportunities in the area by developing solutions to improve preparedness.

CyberTeq, a local firm operating across the region, is now securing multiple segments including government entities, financial institutions, telecom operators, service providers, among other sectors.

The recently created RISA has been mandated to co-ordinate and implement ICT projects to help the government fast-track the implementation of initiatives laid out in the Smart Rwanda Master Plan.

Among the ongoing initiatives that the new agency will oversee include Rwanda Online Platform, which is currently involved in the digitisation of public services as well as the rollout of fibre optic cable for 4 G internet.

Handing over the ICT-related portfolio to RISA leaves RDB time and resources to concentrate on investment promotion.

Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive of RDB, said the government would keep exploring more ways to continue bringing in investments in the sector.

She admitted to some challenges being faced in public private sector investments but said that the government remains committed to increasing investments in the sector.

Among the investments that have been said to be experiencing challenges include Positivo BGH laptop assembly plant.

“When we enter PPPs, we have goals that we are trying to achieve. These goals include bringing access to new technologies and services that are not in the country. The second goal is to bring in new industries and attract ideas that can be implemented in Rwanda,” she said.

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