Opportunities & Risks From the 4th Industrial Revolution in Africa

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Insurance provider and risk mitigator Aoncyber has published a new report titled “Cyber Risks in Africa.” The report focuses on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) which is ushering in a new economy and a new form of globalisation, both of which demand new forms of governance to safeguard the public good. This new chapter in human development is enabled by extraordinary technological advancements, and along with this progress comes inherent risks.

African states need to equip themselves better when it comes to cyber resilience in order to actively participate in the global economy, by effectively managing and mitigating the effects of data breaches and cybercrime on their economy and citizens.

  • The 4th Industrial Revolution brings many opportunities, as well as inherent but not always obvious risks.
  • A commercial strategy can help African countries break into new markets outside of Africa and deal with the unknown cyber risks that are prevalent in the market.
  • Adopting a systematic process of dealing with the associated risks of the 4th Industrial Revolution is crucial.

“Innovation is key to any organisation’s survival. And while tech is being rolled out at a staggering rate, infrastructure support and safeguards seem to be lagging on the continent, leaving African states particularly exposed to global cyber losses which are estimated to cost $6 trillion annually by 2021,” says Zamani Ngidi, Cyber Solutions Client Manager at Aon South Africa.

More than half of Africa’s 54 countries have no data protection or privacy laws, according to a London-based rights group Article 19. And of the countries that do, most have no regulators to enforce them.

“This partially explains why the data around breaches is minimal within the region. Data protection laws should be introduced to emulate global standards such as the GDPR and US cybersecurity strategies if African businesses want to leverage the globalisation potential that comes with the 4IR,” explains Zamani.

“Many African entrepreneurs are producing world-class technology that is being consumed not only by local communities but in the US, Europe and other global markets, changing the tide of globalisation. There has also been the growth of locally developed solutions specifically to address local market needs and unique challenges.

“Part of the focus of the [report] is to highlight the commercial benefits of globalisation from the 4IR, not only by methods of changing how we interact and do business, but also to highlight the importance of data protection and building cyber resilience within this endeavour,” says Zamani.

“Achieving cyber resilience is absolutely crucial, using a circular strategy, which Aon terms the Cyber Loop, each organisation can extract data that will strengthen the organisation’s ability to rapidly detect, respond to and recover from a cyber-attack,” Zamani adds.

With the importance of the changing modes of operation arising from the 4IR, organisations should consider the following:

1. Where they are positioned in relation to the changing environment.

2. Do they understand the risks associated with new products in the market?

3. What is the cost of not innovating and keeping abreast of new technologies?

4. What does sustainability look like in their market?

Edited by Luis Monzon
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