Towela Nyirenda-Jere: “At GC3B we discussed the challenges of securing different types of infrastructure - stars, clouds, and deep seas.”

The GC3B Conference garnered a number of commitments to the Accra Call for Cyber Resilient Development. GCA was an active endorser of this call, and we were keen to hear from leaders across the globe about their impressions of the conference and their vision for how they hope international development leaders make good on those commitments around cyber resilience.

This is part of our “Global Voices” series of interviews, this time with Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Head of the Economic Integration Division at the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) grants this written interview to GCA, where she serves as a Strategic Advisor.  

The recent GC3B she attended played, according to her, a critical role in advancing cybersecurity across Africa and served as a valuable platform to solidify AUDA_NEPA’s commitment to advancing Africa’s cyber capacities. 

Question: What did GC3B mean to you and the industry as a whole, and what are your organization’s plans to move forward with the commitments agreed in Ghana?  

Answer: We actively participated in discussions on the challenges of securing different types of infrastructure – “stars, clouds, and deep seas” – and discussions on cyber-resilience in the context of development and international security. We found value in listening to the diverse experiences and expertise that the conference brought together, enabling us to connect with new partners and identify gaps and opportunities in cyber capacity building. 

The resultant Accra Call for Cyber Resilient Development aligns with our mission to foster sustainable development on the continent in line with the African Union Agenda 2063, as well as the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa. 

We were particularly committed to areas like upskilling the African workforce, promoting regional collaboration, and developing accessible cybersecurity solutions. Moving forward, AUDA-NEPAD plans to leverage the momentum from GC3B by supporting implementation of the commitments agreed in Ghana. 

Our agenda prioritizes strengthening national cybersecurity through targeted capacity building (e.g. for policy makers, legislators, implementing agencies, youth, and women) and development of implementation plans, fostering regional coordination and international cooperation, promoting public-private partnerships, and ensuring inclusive participation in the digital economy. 


From what you are seeing in the field, what should we expect from 2024 in terms of cybersecurity capacity building trends, and or international development new initiatives?


We are likely to see a continued focus on strengthening cyber governance across Africa, particularly in areas such as harmonisation of frameworks, establishment of regional mechanisms and institutions (CERTs, Data Protection, AI, etc) and cross-border cooperation. We also see more focus on resilience of critical infrastructure in energy, transport, finance, and communication. Lastly, issues pertaining to the responsible use of emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain will continue to be significant. 

Development initiatives will thus need to consider:  

  • Integrating cyber capacity building into the broader development agenda, with programs that are tailored and localised to regions and communities. 
  • Developing programs to build skilled cybersecurity professionals through upskilling and reskilling of Africa’s workforce to address the talent gap.
  • Addressing the increased demand for localised capacity building, micro-credentials and specialized training to address specific skill gaps.
  • Mechanisms to strengthen regional and global cooperation between African member states and Africa and other regions to share good practice, exchange information, and undertake joint exercises (Cyber confidence building measures or CBMs).
  • Enhancing capacity to develop and implement robust legal frameworks.
  • Promoting public-private partnerships and encouraging collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society to address shared cybersecurity challenges.

What do you want international donors and private sector groups in your country to focus on, invest in, prioritize, or not do when thinking about helping support cybersecurity? 

International support and collaboration should build on existing frameworks such as Agenda 2063 and the Digital Transformation Strategy. Africa has recently developed the
Africa Agenda on Cyber Capacity Building – from Awareness to Capability (AA-CCB) to advance actions and priorities that allow for the coordination and identification of successful policies, practices, and ideas for CCB programming in Africa. It is thus important for our collaborators and international cooperation partners to be guided by the principles of this Agenda which include:

  1. Advocating for open, transparent, interoperable and inclusive cyberspace where human rights are respected, in particular freedom of expression, private life, and universal access.
  2. Strengthening a multistakeholder approach involving governments, civil society, the private sector and the technical community.
  3. Adopting shared responsibility, accomplished through national, regional and international collaboration and cooperation.
  4. Developing local expertise through using and creating regional expertise (capacity building multipliers).

The agenda elaborates 3 goals supported by 6 actions each:

  • Strengthening a Pan African Approach for Enhanced International Cooperation; 
  • Improving National Cybersecurity Posture through a Whole-Of-Society Approach, and
  • Leveraging Ownership and Inclusiveness to Bridge the Cybersecurity Skills Gap. 

We thus would advocate for a focus on:

  • Building foundational skills: Invest in training programs that equip individuals and organizations with basic cybersecurity knowledge and skills.
  • Supporting critical infrastructure: Prioritize initiatives that strengthen the security of essential services like healthcare, finance, and energy.
  • Empowering civil society: Include civil society organizations in decision-making and capacity building efforts.
  • Addressing the gender gap: Develop programs that encourage women’s participation in cybersecurity careers and leadership roles.
  • Investing in regional cybersecurity capacity building programs that address the specific needs of African countries,  
  • Promoting innovation and technology adoption: Supporting the development and deployment of innovative cybersecurity solutions.
  • Partnering with regional organizations: Collaborating with AUDA-NEPAD and other regional organizations to maximize impact and address continent-specific challenges.
  • Investing in capacity building programs that equip African nations with the tools and expertise to address their unique cybersecurity challenges.
  • Focusing on collaborative partnerships with African organizations and stakeholders, ensuring local ownership and sustainability of initiatives.
  • Supporting the development of accessible and affordable cybersecurity solutions tailored to the African context.


In developing their initiatives and programs, partners need to pay attention to avoiding:

  • Imposing one-size-fits-all solutions and not respecting the diversity, specific needs, and priorities of individual African countries; initiatives should be tailored to specific needs and contexts.
  • Short-term projects with no lasting impact – initiatives should aim to achieve sustainability, and this requires multi-year commitments.
  • Duplication of efforts through better coordination amongst themselves and with existing stakeholders, making sure they leverage, complement, or strengthen ongoing initiatives.
  • Neglecting the needs of underserved and vulnerable communities.

What role can nonprofits like GCA play in making the Internet more secure?

The Global Cyber Alliance and other nonprofits are well-positioned to: 

  • Convening stakeholders and fostering global collaboration – bringing together governments, businesses, civil society, and technical experts to share knowledge and best practices.
  • Developing innovative solutions and best practices – contributing to the development and dissemination of effective cybersecurity solutions tailored to the needs of developing countries. 
  • Raising awareness and educating the public about cybersecurity threats and promoting safe online practices.
  • Building sustainable capacity in developing countries: Providing training, resources, and expertise to help developing nations build their cybersecurity capabilities.
  • Advocating for policy change: Promoting strong cybersecurity policies and regulations at the national and international level.

Previously published on our Global Voices series: