RIA joins UCT and University of Oxford in launching new cybersecurity academic centre


DATE: 15/04/2020

Launch of New Academic Centre at UCT to Develop Cybersecurity of African Countries

In March 2020, at the University of Cape Town, the Cybersecurity Capacity Centre for Southern Africa (C3SA) officially started its activities. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and following the National Government declaration of National Disaster in South Africa, C3SA had to cancel its launch event, which was planned for the 30 of March. However, C3SA has begun with the training provided by the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre at Oxford, on the Cyber Maturity Model for Nations. At the beginning of May, C3SA will implement its first Cyber Maturity Assessment in Uganda, in a completely virtual and remote research setting.

C3SA aims to strengthen the region’s competence in fighting cybercrime, promote women’s participation in cybersecurity research and policy-making, as well as increase the scale, pace, and quality of cybersecurity capacity-building while contributing to digital inclusion and equality in a safe, rights-based and resilient digital ecosystem.

According to one of the co-Directors of C3SA and Senior Research Associate at Research ICT Africa, Dr Enrico Calandro, “cyber threats and risks are particularly challenging for African countries and nations affected by structural inequalities, conflicts and fragility. Having, generally, developing digital and physical infrastructures, weak institutional arrangements and governing mechanisms compounded by limited resources, the digitalisation of these countries is often characterised not only by low levels of connectivity, digital inequality, and limited opportunities, but also by insufficient security which places societies and individuals at a high risk of further marginalisation”.

“With the establishment of C3SA we want to provide a platform for governments, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, and civil society organisations to leverage cyber capacity research in their efforts towards building more equal, inclusive, safe and resilient digital economies and societies,” Calandro said.

C3SA will achieve its objectives by conducting regionally-focused research on cybersecurity capacity by deploying the Cybersecurity Capacity Maturity Model for Nations (CMM), developed

by the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) at the University of Oxford that provides countries with a baseline for capacity-building and resource allocation, and by developing and implementing locally-informed educational programmes.

Prof Wallace Chigona, Co-director of C3SA, added, that “C3SA will achieve its objectives by taking a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity capacity maturity advancement. This approach includes: Train-the-trainer activities to prepare our local researchers to deploy the CMM; the completion of national-level assessments to better understand what constitutes national cybersecurity capacity from an African perspective; capacity-building initiatives in the form of post- graduate training; and analysis and dissemination of findings to ensure that lessons learnt can have an impact on cybersecurity policy-making”.

C3SA was born from the collaboration between the Department of Information Systems at the University of Cape Town, the technology focused thinktank, Research ICT Africa, the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) at Oxford University, and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

“Collaboration on cybersecurity is crucial to all of us,” said Sadie Creese, Professor of Cybersecurity at the Department of Computer Science, and founding Director of the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre. “Our work with colleagues at the new C3SA is aimed at enhancing cybersecurity capacity-building in the Southern African region. It will not only contribute to building cyber-resilience for the countries involved, but also to further the academic excellence in cybersecurity across South Africa and the wider region. We welcome this addition to the growing constellation of partnerships around the world.”

C3SA is part of the Global Constellation of academic research centres initiated by the GCSCC as part of its strategy to decentralise cybersecurity capacity research activities at a regional level. C3SA is the second centre in this constellation after the Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC) in Melbourne, Australia.

C3SA operates from the Department of Information System at the University of Cape Town.

The Centre is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

About Research ICT Africa
Research ICT Africa (RIA) has more than 15 years’ experience in conducting multidisciplinary research on digital governance, policy and regulation that facilitates evidence-based and informed policy making for improved access, use and application of digital technologies for social and economic development in Africa. In 2018, in response to challenges and the evolving global digital policy sector, RIA established an Africa Digital Policy Project to conduct research that promotes a better understanding of the positive as well as negative implications of Africans’ inclusion in this evolving information society. ADPP covers four programmatic areas in this context; namely cybersecurity, data protection and privacy, the digital economy, and innovation. These areas are intersected by cross-cutting themes of gender, governance, and digital rights.

About Department of Information System, University of Cape Town
The mission of the Department of Information System at the UCT is to be a leading African centre for research and study of information systems, producing world class graduates and research while playing a positive role in the upliftment and empowerment of our community. This is only possible through the excellent endeavour of its academic staff, all with strong IS/IT background, in theoretical and research areas, as well as contemporary industry experience.

About the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre
The Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) is established in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford as a multidisciplinary programme of the Oxford Martin School. It is a leading international centre for research on efficient and effective cybersecurity capacity building, promoting an increase in the scale, pace, quality and impact of cybersecurity capacity building initiatives across the world. 
It has created a first-of-its-kind Cybersecurity Capacity Maturity Model for Nations (CMM) to measure a country’s cybersecurity capacity maturity, which aims to enable nations to better plan investments and national cybersecurity strategies, and set priorities for capacity development. 
Working with key stakeholders from across the international community, the GCSCC has successfully deployed the CMM in more than 80 countries around the globe, undertaking consultations alongside partners such as the World Bank, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The deployment is in itself an effective capacity building exercise for those countries that host our research, informing the thinking of those tasked with cybersecurity. 
The GCSCC is encouraging uptake of the CMM by other countries and international community actors, irrespective of mandate, to allow those working in this space to have a more comprehensive picture of cybersecurity in the countries they are working in, to improve planning, avoid duplication and enable better-strategised capacity building investments.

About the Oxford Martin School
The Oxford Martin School is a world-leading research department of the University of Oxford. Its 200 academics, work across more than 30 pioneering research programmes to find solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges. It supports novel and high-risk projects that often do not fit within conventional funding channels, with the belief that breaking boundaries and fostering innovative collaborations can dramatically improve the wellbeing of this and future generations. Underpinning all our research is the need to translate academic excellence into impact – from innovations in science, medicine and technology, through to providing expert advice and policy recommendations.

About the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford
The Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford has one of the longest- established Computer Science departments in the country. Formerly known as the Oxford University Computing Laboratory, it is home to a community of world-class research and teaching. Research activities encompass core Computer Science, as well as computational biology, quantum computing, computational linguistics, information systems, software verification and software engineering. The department is home to undergraduates, full-time and part-time Master’s students, and has a strong doctoral programme.

About the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
NUPI is a leading center for research on international issues in areas of particular relevance to Norwegian foreign policy and the study of international relations. NUPI brings to this project more than 60 years as a leading community for research and communication about international affairs of relevance for Norway and internationally.

For media queries, contact:
Nthabiseng Pule at +27 21 650-2261 or npule@researchictafrica.net