Kenya’s New Cyber Shujaa Program To Train 2,000 Youth As Cybersecurity Experts

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USIU-Africa, Kenya Bankers Association and Serianu have unveiled a cyber training initiative.

The program will train 2,000 professionals, boosting the base of Kenya’s cyber security expertise.

Known as Cyber Shujaa, the training program’s novelty is illustrated in the development and implementation of a harmonized cybersecurity employment framework.

It bridges the gap between industry and the training institutions. It targets to bring 1,000 women on board as cybersecurity professionals. The program will also support a minimum of 30 young people as cybersecurity entrepreneurs.

L-R: William Makatiani, Chief Executive Officer, Serianu, Prof. Freida Brown, Vice Chancellor, USIU-Africa, Dr. Habil Olaka, CEO, Kenya Bankers Association and Beatrice Gichohi, Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) during the launch of the Cyber Shujaa program.

Speaking during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the consortium members, the Vice Chancellor, USIU-Africa, Professor Freida Brown reiterated the University’s commitment to action research which calls for interventions and co-creation of knowledge with stakeholders.

He adds that this project enhances our university-industry-government-civil society linkages to promote similar future partnerships. The program will brand itself to become a cybersecurity institute to offer a nationally recognized certification in the area of cybersecurity. Prof. Frieda reveals that Center Informatics Research and Innovation (CIRI) is striving to be a regional leader and a major player in cybersecurity issues on the continent in the next five years.

Cybersecurity experts demand

The dearth of skilled cyber security experts is a global challenge that requires 2 million new practitioners. At the local level it is equally severe. Serianu research show that Kenya needs to hire at least 1,000 new experts annually. The research concludes that there is an alarming shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. It further established Kenya’s burden of burgeoning cybercrime. There’s an estimate of Kshs 10 billion in annual losses exacerbated by a severe lack of sufficient well-trained cybersecurity experts.

“We recognized that a multi-agency approach to creating a pathway for learners to transition into the industry as practicing cybersecurity executives is key to bridging the local skills gap,” said William Makatiani, the Chief Executive Officer of Serianu.

PHOTO: Information age

Mr. Makatiani says Serianu’s research indicate that more women taking up ICT courses at the tertiary learning institutions. This creates an impression that Serianu, USIU-Africa and Kenya Bankers Association partnership will accelerate the growth of Kenya’s national cyber professional expert base.

As per 2019 cybersecurity survey by Serianu, only 10 per cent of practicing cyber security professionals were women despite their interest in the career. Through the consortium, Kenya Bankers Association will provide the market intelligence that informs the curriculum development. USIU-Africa will design the curriculum and ensure the youth are at the heart of the program. The technical training and practical immersion will be offered by Serianu.

Kenya Bankers CEO Dr. Habil Olaka said that the financial services sector was a key interested party in its success owing to the nature of their business and the fact that it touches every sphere of the economy.

Countering cybercrime

Rapid uptake and adoption of technology by financial institutions has led to increate in digital fraud. Fraudsters continue to target vulnerable users through identity theft, social engineering, and phishing emails. They successfully exploit low levels of awareness on the part of consumers.

The evolving fraud trends threaten economic gains earned over the past decades. As a consequence, this calls for stakeholders to work together towards containing it. This partnership will provide a unique approach to capacity building and skills development. There is a direct relationship between the content that the students are taught and where the financial sector’s present and future needs lie.

A tripartite education and training approach for speedy skilling and placement will reduce the economy’s exposure to marauding cybercriminals who are undeterred by geographical boundaries.

“As the umbrella body of commercial banks, the Kenya Bankers Association remains committed to applying innovative solutions to security challenges and will continue to engage on partnerships that seek to deliver value to our stakeholders, the banking public and  the economy  at large,” added Dr. Olaka.

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Shadrack Matata writes about engineering, software development, the Internet of things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cyber security, and blockchain @Techweez. Email: [email protected]