* Africa needs to shift away from the national boundary mindset and take the modern approach of collaboration and coordination on issues pertaining to cyber security—MACRA chair Dr. Stanley Khaila
By Tiyanjane Mambucha, MANA
Minister of Information & Digitization, Moses Kunkuyu says promotion of massive adoption of information telecommunication technologies (ICTs) should be preceded by an assurance to ICT users of the safety and overall security of these technologies.
He said this on Monday when he opened the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Cyber drill for Africa at Umodzi Park in Lilongwe, saying Malawi undertook a cyber security maturity model assessment from which five dimensions are being pursued to address security threats in the cyber space.
“The dimensions include the development and implementation of cyber security policy & strategy, promotion of cyber culture & society, cyber security education, training & skills, strengthening of legal & regulatory frameworks and development of cyber security standards,” he said.
On his part, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) Board chairperson, Dr. Stanley Khaila said as a region, Africa needs to shift away from the national boundary mindset and take the modern approach of collaboration and coordination on issues pertaining to cyber security.
“Without collaboration, the advantage in cyber security can and will belong to the attackers,” he said. “The digital world has no boundaries and the perpetrators of these cyber crimes and the cyber-crimes themselves are not unique and localized to any geographical location.”
Regional Director for Africa International Telecommunication Union, Rachael Inne said Africa alone experienced 1,845 cyber attacks only in 2022 which were higher than the world’s attacks.
Malawi is hosting the 11th edition of the cyber drill in partnership with the Malawi Computer Emergency Response Team, the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism, Forum for Incidence Response Security Team and Africa.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe announced on Monday that MACRA is topping the list of best performing regulators — followed by TEVETA and the National Construction Industry Council.
As a communications regulator, MACRA has facilitated many reforms that are in line with the country’s development blueprint, the MW2063 to ensure advanced communication services for a digitally transformed nation.
The regulator established the Universal Service Fund, which is its main tool in providing universal ICT access for all through financing ICT projects in rural and hard-to-reach areas of the country.
MACRA has also in operational, the National Addressing System — aimed at assigning and allocating physical addresses to all residents in the country through property and house numbering and street naming.
There is the Type Approval Regulations that provide guidelines on the standards of ICT equipment for use in Malawi, whose process ensures that consumers of ICT services are protected against hazardous products and goods.
Taking cognizance of the rising cases of digital fraud, MACRA is building a digital forensic laboratory for Malawi Police Services to enhance the fight against cybercrimes in the country.
This was disclosed by MACRA chairperson, Dr. Stanley Khaila in January at the first of its kind regional public relations (PR) conference, which was co-organised by MACRA and Public Relations Society of Malawi (PRSM) — under the theme ‘Policing in digital era.’
Khaila also said MACRA has partnered the MPS on several issues — “most notable is the mobile fraud task force, where various key stakeholders have come together to harmonize our efforts in the fight against the vice that is mobile fraud”.
The task is made up of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, Airtel, TNM, MACRA, MPS, Prison Services, and the National Registration Bureau and Khaila said: “We believe that our combined efforts are in the right direction in dealing with mobile money fraudsters and making our digital space safe for all.”
This is on top of the deployment of a identity SIM card and phone register system in Malawi, which will assist in tracking down stolen phones and also ensuring that only original phones are able to be registered for use on the mobile and telephone networks.
There is also the establishment and operationalization of the Malawi Computer Response Team which is responsible for the coordination of cyber security issues on a national level.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express