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Africa Should Rethink Digital Sovereignty




Digital sovereignty has increasingly turned into a sensitive geopolitical issue that needs careful handling, understanding and navigation for particular states to remain relevant globally.

The past decade has seen Africa embrace digital migration an initiative presented as a catapult for the continent to leap into a modern future.

African states have relaxed their legal framework to allow private investors in telecoms and then the internet.

Ultimately this has given private companies control over the juicy data market. However, analysts consider this control of data by private companies as Africa’s loss of its digital sovereignty.

Rethinking taxation and regulation is the only way to regain control.

According to Amadou Diop, a Senegalese founder of the digital strategy consulting firm, MNS Consulting, “It started off badly.” 

Amadou has been working for several months on the subject, draws up an alarming first picture of Africa’s shortcomings in this area.

Submarine cables, terrestrial fiber optic networks, datacenters, all the infrastructures essential to good connectivity on the continent and to the development of a true digital economy belong in whole or in part to the top five pan-African operators: MTN, Orange, Airtel, Vodacom and Etisalat.

“These five players cover 57% of African subscribers and, apart from MTN, none is purely African …”, regrets the telecoms engineer trained at IMT Atlantique and holds an MBA from Essec.

And to continue on future projects of even more powerful actors such as Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation and the multiple initiatives of Facebook across the continent (including the 2Africa submarine cable): “We run the risk of seeing the emergence of transnational players who no longer need the backing of a national regulator to attract customers where they need it.

Africa needs data centres to gain its digital sovereignty

The “race for data” has already started, but is Africa ready to respond to storage and processing needs? 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day in the world.

Africa, with its 1.2 billion inhabitants and a mobile penetration rate that has been steadily increasing in recent years, could soon become the new “data Eldorado”.

Indeed, according to Globe Newswire, Africa’s data centre market size is expected to exceed US$3 billion by 2025, due to a strong interest from major global cloud service providers such as AWS, Microsoft or Huawei.

Africa’s population is expected to reach a quarter of the world’s population in less than 30 years.

This translates into the generation of an incalculable amount of data that need to be properly collected, stored, protected, analysed and then turned into actionable information for the benefit of the continent.

As Ange Diagou, from NSIA Technologies, stated in an article about the need for efficient data centers in Africa, the economic sovereignty of the continent is at stake.

Today, Africa only hosts around 1.3% of the world’s data centres, which means less than a hundred, whereas the rest of the cake is largely distributed between USA and Europe (40% and 30% respectively).

To all these facts, which have direct implications for the economic development of the continent, we can add the alarming growth of cybercrime and the expanding influence of data in political and economic decision-making, to confirm what Yannick Yamdjeu has already claimed in this blog, namely that “digital sovereignty is a geopolitical issue”.

Building data centre capacities requires not only infrastructure, but also substantial human resources with targeted skills.

In a region where 41% of the population is under 15, time has come to implement such a policy, that involves directing education towards dynamic sectors such as the digital one.

According to the Internet Society, the Internet contributes to only 1.1% of African countries’ GDP. As stressed by Robert Mullins, Executive Director of First Brick Holdings, “despite the dramatic rise in both terrestrial and mobile connectivity over the past 10 years, broader Digital Transformation in Africa has been largely stymied by a lack of adequate data centre infrastructure”.

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Police Senior Command Symposium Ends With Call To Reshape Operational Framework



This National Police College (NPC) symposium concluded on Friday, June 18, with focus on environmental challenges, transnational organized crimes, and pandemics as some of the major security threats affecting the African continent.

The Minister of Local Government, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, while officially closing the symposium, said that peace and security dynamics of the 21st century are growing very complex than ever before mainly due to the changing nature of security threats including cyber and high-tech crimes, environment related threats, terrorism, transnational organised crimes, and the changing nature of pandemics.

“In confronting the emerging security threats, there is a compelling need to have an awareness of their trends and impacts in order to be able to reshape policy, legal and operational frameworks both at national and regional level in view of the new developments,” said Minister Gatabazi.

He added that engaging police senior command and staff course students and other participants from 13 different countries into such interactions on dynamics of global and regional peace security and justice is a “better way to raise the number of strategic leaders with the ability to address the emerging security threats and ensure a favorable environment for social economic activities in their respective countries.”

Panelists’ insights

On the issue of environmental challenges, the Minister of Environment Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said that climate and environmental changes can cause conflicts that compromise security.

“They affect the ability of people to earn a livelihood. We cannot live without security, neither can we live without good environment. These two complements each other,” said Minister Mujawamariya.

David Smith, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Programme Manager in Nairobi, said that the key to minimizing security challenges arising from environmental effects is building climate resilience and institutional capacities and that Rwanda is a model in addressing environmentally related security challenges.

To this, Juliet Kabera, the Director General-Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) noted that in building the resilience to climate change, constitutional provisions on environmental protection and rights for the people must be applied.

“We have a long-term vision of 2050 t ensue low carbon emissions. By 2030, we need to have achieved the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) toward a resilient environment,” said Kabera.

Transnational organized crimes: A growing security threat for Africa

Gideon Kimuli, the Head of Interpol Regional Bureau in Nairobi, who echoed on transboundary crimes in Africa, said that responding to transnational crimes requires building centres in countries that specialize in responding to sophisticated crimes of this era.

Prosecutor General, Aimable Havugiyaremye observed that technology is changing how some long-established types of crimes are committed.

“Law enforcement and the judiciary must be fit for the digital age; they need to use modern technology and be equipped with tools and skills to keep up with modern crime,” said Havugiyaremye

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Africa: Rwanda in Perspective

On the threats posed by pandemics, Dr. Theophile Dushime, Chief Technical Advisor in the Ministry of Health outlined strong leadership, active partnership, multi-sectional and regional collaboration, community engagement, continuity of essential services, data science and innovation as some of the key factors in Rwanda’s preparedness and response plan.

Leonard Rugwabiza Minega, Economic Advisor in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said that to recover the economy ruined by pandemics, Africa must be industrialized, including manufacturing vaccines and medical supplies.

“As we have seen, we can’t depend on others when it comes to our livelihood,” said Rugwabiza.

Rwanda National Police (RNP) spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera said that as the force charged with enforcing COVID-19 prevention measures, RNP had to mobilize and deploy officers in areas at risk, educate and create awareness, and build public trust.

“To help Rwandans understand the danger of COVID-19, our communications had to be consistent with simple but actionable messages, engaging on all platforms and educative. We embraced the use of technology to carry messages such as drones. After all, we want citizens to take responsibility to protect themselves first,” said CP Kabera.

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Police Senior Command Symposium Starts With Focus On Confronting Emerging Security Threats



The two-day symposium on Peace, Security and Justice started on Wednesday, June 17, at the National Police College (NPC) in Musanze District as scholars, academicians, policymakers, and other eminent officials with expertise in various fields discussed measures to confront emerging security threats on the African continent.

The symposium organized by Rwanda National Police (RNP) under the theme: ‘Confronting Emerging Security Threats in Africa’ is part of the ‘Police Senior Command and Staff Course (PSCSC)’ which brings together senior Police students from across Africa.

The current ninth intake is attended by 32 law enforcement officers from five countries—Kenya, Namibia, Somalia, South Sudan and Rwanda, the host.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, while officially opening the symposium, said that the world is confronted with numerous and complex challenges including ethnic conflicts and wars, transnational organized crimes, pandemics, natural disasters, proliferation of weapons and arms, climate change, migration and xenophobia.

It was also attended by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) Juvenal Marizamunda, and Deputy IGP in charge of Administration and Personnel, Jeanne Chantal Ujeneza.

“As a result of globalization, rapid socio-economic development, information communication technology and knowledge dispersal, some of these threats are growing more complex and new forms thereof are emerging especially in Africa.

It is, therefore, evident that addressing these security threats in an efficient manner requires senior security managers be equipped with state-of-the art knowledge and skills as well as a deep understanding of the national, regional, and global security dynamics,” Minister Busingye said.

He added that the theme of the symposium enables the Police Senior Command and Staff Course participants—as senior police leaders and managers—to think about customized strategies to effectively respond to the emerging security threats in their respective countries.

NPC Commandant, Commissioner of Police (CP) Christophe Bizimungu said that the conference aims to expand the knowledge of the students beyond what they learned in class and to have extensive knowledge and experience in the field of peace, security, and justice.

“The conference will explore the impact of media on security, the role of technological advancements in security, and environmental challenges. These topics are of interest at the present time and for many years to come,” said CP Bizimungu.

Panelists on the first day of the symposium include the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, Dr. Almerindo Graziano, the CEO of SILENSEC, a UK-based Information Security Management Consulting and Training company, and Col. David Kanamugire, the CEO of National Cyber Security Authority; who tackled the ‘policing in the modern information and communication technology era’ and ‘media and security.’

‘Media and Security: proactive role in building secure and coherent societies’ also took the centre of discussion on the first day of the symposium as media specialists; renowned journalist Charles Onyango Obbo, Lt. Col. Claude Nkusi, Yolande Makolo, Dr. Fredrick Gooloba Mutebi and Dr. Lonzen Rugira; who divulged more on how the role of security institutions and that of the media are interdependent in sovereign and democratic societies.

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World Rally Championship Returns To Kenya



Motor sport enthusiasts will once again next week get a chance of enjoying racing cars in the worlds toughest race.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday said, it had taken the country years of negotiations and preparations to bring back the World Rally Championship (WRC) event after an 18-year absence.

“My hope and my prayer is that the manner in which we shall conduct ourselves over the next few days will be such that everybody will accept and understand that the Safari Rally is now here and is here to stay, and we’re not likely to lose it,” President Uhuru said.

He however, said, ” it will depend on not only with how you all perform, all the agencies involved will perform but how Kenyans themselves will behave,” the President said.

President Uhuru presented brand new rally cars to young Kenyan drivers Hamza Anwar (22), McRae Kimathi (26) and Jeremy Wahome (22). The three drivers are sponsored for the WRC Safari Rally by Safaricom and Kenya Airways.

According to organisers, 58 drivers have been confirmed for the event, 24 of them foreigners with the most prominent being Frenchman Sébastien Ogier who has claimed seven WRC titles in the last eight seasons.

The event, will take place in the scenic town of Naivasha in Nakuru County. It was restored to the WRC calendar following an intensive campaign led by President Uhuru.

Rose Wachuka, the Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, it is a “moment of pride” for Kenya.

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