KICTANet statement during the Fourth Substantive Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies 2021-2025, UN Headquarters, New York
9th March 2023.
By Grace Githaiga, Convenor, KICTANet.
Mr. Chair, Distinguished Delegates,
The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) is a multistakeholder platform and think tank whose overall mission is to promote an enabling environment in the ICT sector that is robust, open, accessible, and rights-based through multistakeholderism.
We want to thank the Chair and all Member States for their work in advancing the mandate of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and welcome the various proposals made on the topics discussed during this fourth session. As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we welcome the measures directed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in ICTs.
Further, we highlight challenges in the Global South countries, including the rise of cyber threats such as, malware, ransomware, DDOS attacks and social engineering targeting mobile money services; increased privacy risks associated with IT supply chains that facilitate data breaches, data mining and surveillance; coordinated disinformation campaigns especially during election periods; and rising digital threats to human rights defenders, including women, journalists and online activists.
In response to the questions provided by the Chair, we state as follows:
a) Are there good examples of public-private partnerships on capacity-building in the area of security of and in the use of ICTs?
- KICTANet has collaborated with state agencies (e.g., Communications Authority, ICT Authority, Kenya Film Classification Board), Development Partners (UK FCDO and Ford Foundation), and non-state actors (e.g. ISPs, Telcos, civil society, media and academia) to promote cyber hygiene awareness in Kenya. In particular, the awareness programme targeted the often digitally marginalised and excluded populations and vulnerable groups such as children, women, farmers, persons living with disabilities, and persons living in rural and in informal settlements.
- KICTANet in partnership with various state and non-state actors has hosted the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KESIG) since 2016 and participated in the African School on Internet Governance. Also, as part of the African Cybersecurity Experts Community, we have contributed to the development of a cybersecurity curriculum under the auspices of the AU-Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) Project. These national and regional initiatives are useful platforms for stakeholders based in the region to have a common understanding of internet governance issues, build synergies, share information, and identify and make concrete recommendations for action.
- Multistakeholder convenings such as Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the national levels such as Kenya IGF, East Africa IGF, and Africa IGF have provided a unique platform for stakeholder engagement, learning, and sharing of best practices.
b) Are there lessons that can be gleaned from those examples?
- Mr. Chair, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility – we all have a role to play, given our various skills and responsibilities in the cyber ecosystem. Consequently, the meaningful participation of all stakeholders in the design, development, and implementation of various cyber initiatives cannot be over-emphasised.
- We believe that multistakeholder engagement between governments and all relevant stakeholders such as experts, civil society, private sector and academia at the national and regional levels is critical.
- Moreover, regular, focused and constructive engagement can be instrumental in the identification of gaps, building of synergies and in the design and development of innovative approaches, including context-specific responses to emerging issues in the cyber domain. They also facilitate sharing of information and building common understanding of the issues, challenges and opportunities and best practices.
- We call upon delegates from Member States, especially those from Africa, to cascade these conversations at the national and regional levels to ensure all are brought on board. In particular, to encourage them to utilise the African Union and Regional Economic Blocs in the continent (e.g., ECOWAS, EAC, SADC, and CEAAC), to prioritise cyber diplomacy, including facilitating greater multistakeholder engagement at the national and regional level on the topics in discussion at this OEWG.
- In addition, continued investments by state and non-state actors in evidence-based research and the work of civil society is useful in informing cyber policy-making processes and promoting common understanding of cyber issues, including on how to ensure human-centric approaches in the field of ICTs.
Finally Mr. Chair, we encourage Member States present and development partners to invest in and support the work of civil society, especially those in the Global South, to enable them to effectively participate, contribute to the OEWG, and deliver useful outcomes in their regions. We thank you.
KICTANet participated in the Open-Ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies 2021-2025, UN Headquarters, New York between 6th to 10th March 2023.