Registration for the second edition of the Cyber Africa Forum -which will take place on May 9 and 10 in Abidjan- is open. The opportunity for Franck Kié, general commissioner of the event, to return with “14 km” on the first part organized in June 2021 and to discuss the future challenges for Africa in terms of cybersecurity.
COULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND ?
I am Franck Kié, cybersecurity consultant, president and founder of Ciberobs “Make Africa safe”, a platform specialized on cybersecurity in Africa. I am also the general commissioner of the Cyber Africa forum (CAF), a dedicated event specialized on cybersecurity risks in Africa and I also intervene as a panelist and moderator on various sessions, webinars or publications related to cybersecurity and business intelligence in general.
I am a graduate of the New York University School of Economic Warfare and Warwick, where I studied international relations and international security. After spending several years in a financial consulting firm, I was looking for a professional reorientation. So I redirected myself to the field of cybersecurity.
YOU LAUNCHED THE FIRST EDITION OF THE CYBER AFRICA FORUM ON JUNE 7. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THIS FIRST INITIATIVE, AND CAN YOU CONSIDER THAT YOUR OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED? TO WHAT EXTENT ?
For us, the main thing was to be able to put cybersecurity risks at the heart of Africa’s challenges and I can say that to this extent, our objectives have indeed been achieved. In terms of participation, we were very satisfied because there were more than 700 participants, which indicated a real interest of people and populations on the subject. We also had high level partners and sponsors such as Deloitte, Huawei, MTN or Ecobank but also institutions such as ECOWAS, which shows that they are interested and involved in this issue.
In terms of public decision-makers, the two ministers of the digital economy of the sub-region – from Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea – were present, despite the Covid context. We also had speakers from the public and private sector, from Côte d’Ivoire, the sub-region, Africa and the world.
WE CAN SAY THAT YOUR EVENT HAD THE EXPECTED IMPACT.
Our goal was to be a catalyst and a trigger for structuring the cybersecurity ecosystem in Africa. Indeed, a few months later, we could see that some participants and speakers present at our event had organized their own forums. The CAF took place in June 2021 and the following September, there was an event in Brazzaville. Last October, there was an event in Lomé, and Libreville will host a meeting on the subject next February.
We are happy that the Cyber Africa Forum will allow other initiatives to take off and build on what we have done and hope that it will help to strengthen this issue in Africa.
DURING THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS ON DECEMBER 22, THE IVORIAN PRESIDENT ALASSANE OUATTARA SAID TO RELEASE THE SUM OF 18 BILLION FCFA TO FIGHT AGAINST SCAMS ON THE INTERNET. IN ADDITION, HE ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY COUNCIL AND AN OPERATIONAL SECURITY CENTER. WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN EXPECT FROM THIS APPROACH?
We can expect a strengthening of the capacities and means of cybersecurity and cyber defense in Côte d’Ivoire. This initiative is to be welcomed and is in line with what we promise at Ciberobs, namely the establishment of governance, investment in infrastructure and especially in training and human resources.
I think that through this, Côte d’Ivoire plays its role as a digital hub, pioneer and avant-gardist on cybersecurity issues. We look forward to seeing the operational implementation of these measures in the coming weeks.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR ?
Without a doubt, the organization of the Cyber Africa Forum required a lot of motivation and determination, especially in the context of the pandemic. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and salute my team and all the people who, from near or far, helped me in the implementation of this project which, beyond being a simple event, is a flagship in terms of cyber security in Africa.
WHAT ARE FOR YOU THE ESSENTIAL QUALITIES TO UNDERTAKE THIS TYPE OF PROBLEM ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT ?
I think it is necessary to have intellectual curiosity and not be afraid to get your hands dirty. It’s a relatively entrepreneurial endeavor, so it requires a lot of dedication, motivation and determination. It also requires a certain resilience and creativity to find alternatives in the face of various problems and uncertain contexts. And above all, you have to believe in what you are doing and in your project.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS SEEN BY MANY AS A BENEFICIAL ADVANCE IN CYBER SECURITY. DO YOU THINK THIS TECHNOLOGY COULD BE ONE OF THE ANSWERS TO UNKNOWN THREATS ?
Yes, but this should not be the only answer. Artificial intelligence can anticipate and respond in place of man when he is not able to do so, but it must be coupled and accompanied by men who master these processes.
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT AND FUTURE PROJECTS ?
Our next project is the organization of the Cyber Africa Forum 2022 in partnership with Jeune Afrique Media Group, which will take place on May 9 and 10, under the patronage of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, and the support of the Minister of Digital Economy.
We want to focus on the private and public sectors, bring together key decision makers, offer a trade show and business interactions and quality meetings.
We also aim to work on structuring and strengthening the content of our Ciberobs platform, with the project of setting up a foundation that will accompany all our efforts in the field of cybersecurity and digital more generally.
Aurélie Kouman – Journalist