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Launch of new academic centre will help to develop cybersecurity of African countries


In March 2020, at the University of Cape Town, the Cybersecurity Capacity Centre for Southern Africa (C3SA) officially started its activities. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and following the National Government declaration of National Disaster in South Africa, C3SA had to cancel its launch event, which was planned for the 30 of March. However, C3SA has begun with the training provided by the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre at Oxford, on the Cyber Maturity Model for Nations. At the beginning of May, C3SA will implement its first Cyber Maturity Assessment in Uganda, in a completely virtual and remote research setting. 

C3SA aims to strengthen the region’s competence in fighting cybercrime, promote women’s participation in cybersecurity research and policy-making, as well as increase the scale, pace, and quality of cybersecurity capacity-building while contributing to digital inclusion and equality in a safe, rights-based and resilient digital ecosystem. 

According to one of the co-Directors of C3SA and Senior Research Associate at Research ICT Africa, Dr Enrico Calandro, 'cyber threats and risks are particularly challenging for African countries and nations affected by structural inequalities, conflicts and fragility. Having, generally, developing digital and physical infrastructures, weak institutional arrangements and governing mechanisms compounded by limited resources, the digitalisation of these countries is often characterised not only by low levels of connectivity, digital inequality, and limited opportunities, but also by insufficient security which places societies and individuals at a high risk of further marginalisation'. 

'With the establishment of C3SA we want to provide a platform for governments, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, and civil society organisations to leverage cyber capacity research in their efforts towards building more equal, inclusive, safe and resilient digital economies and societies,' Calandro said. 

C3SA will achieve its objectives by conducting regionally-focused research on cybersecurity capacity by deploying the Cybersecurity Capacity Maturity Model for Nations (CMM), developed by the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) at the University of Oxford that provides countries with a baseline for capacity-building and resource allocation, and by developing and implementing locally-informed educational programmes. 

Prof Wallace Chigona, Co-director of C3SA, added, that 'C3SA will achieve its objectives by taking a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity capacity maturity advancement. This approach includes: Train-the-trainer activities to prepare our local researchers to deploy the CMM; the completion of national-level assessments to better understand what constitutes national cybersecurity capacity from an African perspective; capacity-building initiatives in the form of post-graduate training; and analysis and dissemination of findings to ensure that lessons learnt can have an impact on cybersecurity policy-making'. 

C3SA was born from the collaboration between the Department of Information Systems at the University of Cape Town, the technology focused thinktank, Research ICT Africa, the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) at Oxford University, and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). 

'Collaboration on cybersecurity is crucial to all of us,' said Sadie Creese, Professor of Cybersecurity at the Department of Computer Science, and founding Director of the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre. 'Our work with colleagues at the new C3SA is aimed at enhancing cybersecurity capacity-building in the Southern African region. It will not only contribute to building cyber-resilience for the countries involved, but also to further the academic excellence in cybersecurity across South Africa and the wider region. We welcome this addition to the growing constellation of partnerships around the world.' 

C3SA is part of the Global Constellation of academic research centres initiated by the GCSCC as part of its strategy to decentralise cybersecurity capacity research activities at a regional level. C3SA is the second centre in this constellation after the Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC) in Melbourne, Australia. 

C3SA operates from the Department of Information System at the University of Cape Town. 

The Centre is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.