Press Release

Press Release

SAMENA Council Highlights Future Network Deployment and Cybersecurity Priorities at Global Cybersecurity Forum 2023

The third Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) in Riyadh brought together world leaders and businesses to discuss and take action in the fight against cybercrime. Under the theme “Charting Shared Priorities in Cyberspace”, GCF 2023 called for action to unite against impending cyber threats, to prioritize making cyberspace secure, and to build new collaborations among a diverse array of stakeholders and leaders. Cybercrime is already ranking among the top growing threats around the world.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum had highlighted that investments are greatly being influenced by cybersecurity, with 93% of cybersecurity experts and 86% of business leaders considering likelihood of global geopolitical instability and consequential impact on socio-economic activities. Moreover, and this is in alignment with what was discussed in SAMENA Council's Leaders' Summit 2023 later on, talent shortage and lack of skilled cyber experts are now a major threat to business and societies, especially given the dependence on digital technologies by other sectors.

Speaking at GCF 2023 in Riyadh, SAMENA Council, represented by CEO & Board Member, Bocar BA, stated: “Technology advancements such as 5.5G and gearing up toward 6G on the Mobile front and Net5.5G on the fixed network front are truly calling for greater inclusion, greater integration of technologies and industries, and a lot more collaboration on multiple fronts. Cybersecurity is one such front, since the complexity of the ecosystem, access to the network, and numerous uses of the communication infrastructure, inherently make network and data security a daunting challenge. Therefore, we truly need to chart new priorities to ensure a safer, securer, and sustainable cyberspace.”

In the GCF panel, Bocar BA highlighted the imperative of elevating cybersecurity to an important business strategic value: “Cybersecurity should be endorsed at the board level, owned by the CEO while being driven by a common language of risk and opportunities rather than by compliance requirements and penalties. This would provide the necessary mindset from being reactive to being proactive, and hence impact approaches for deploying future networks”, he added.

SAMENA Council views that deploying the future network at scale is about balancing beneficial use-cases, differentiation, monetization, fulfilment of national and global commitments, and, ultimately, unleashing innovation and making collective progress toward human development.

In his intervention at GCF, BA also linked sustainability and future network deployment, including 6G. He added: “If we look at the work being done on 6G, we note that one of the key targets for developing 6G includes cutting the average power consumption of 6G networks in half as compared to 5G, while still supporting peak speeds 100 times higher than today’s 5G networks. We are talking about dramatically reducing per-bit energy consumption and carbon emissions. Companies such as Nokia and Huawei, both of which are valued members of SAMENA Council, are making tremendous contributions on future network development and deployment.”

SAMENA Council observes that future network deployment, including 6G, would greatly require attention to fulfilling environmental, social and economic sustainability requirements, as well as supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. On the latter front, SAMENA Council is leading a panel discussion during COP28, being held in Dubai in December.

As the ITU prepares to issue framework (expected in December) for developing 6G standards, and as various technology companies, including some Members of SAMENA Council, gear up toward 6G research and development, technical requirements, submission process, and evaluation criteria for potential IMT-2030 6G radio interface technologies will emerge, with final set of 6G standards expected to be issued later in 2030.

SAMENA Council’s Views on Cybersecurity

Our inter-dependence, inter-networking, information exchange rests on the need and ability to be able to sustainably use exchange and protect these assets. Given that the Internet or the "cyberspace" or the “information space” is central to the existence of digital economy and to new digital capabilities, experiences ,and possibilities, we have no choice but to protect cyber assets. Hence the need for "cybersecurity". The Information Space is unique as it exists with the participation of ALL and thus requires a collective responsibility from all sectors of society to ensure the respect of laws, rights and norms for the protection of people.

The security of cyberspace is essential for a stable global system, of which Africa is a rising part. Thus, action must be taken to strengthen this security with approaches that enhance trust, the rights of people and societal resilience.

Insufficient cybersecurity results in opportunity costs, system downtime, operational expenditure, lost efficiency, bad image for brands, loss of trust among customers and partners, loss of investment, intellectual property infringement, and damage to human morale, etc.

ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) is a trusted reference and it covers all essential areas of focus for cybersecurity…including Technical, Organizational, Legal/Regulatory, Capacity-building, and Cooperation-building aspects.

To advocate sustainability and protection of the cyberspace, international cooperation, the political will, collaboration with industry bodies, such as SAMENA Council and the Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) Institute are essential. Expertise and resourcefulness of such platforms can be leveraged by both governments and the private sector.

Cybersecurity policy and regulation should be concerned with the welfare of society. Moreover, in the interest of the society as a whole, Policymakers and Regulators need to view the Private Sector as the enabling engine of ICT-driven nation-building and sustainable development and not as a mere revenue contributor to the national treasury. Therefore, before taking any regulatory or interventional steps, sufficient efforts should be made to capture the impact of an intervention on the economic welfare of all participants in the market, including digital ecosystem players, consumers, and the economy.

Operators need to be enabled and incentivized to invest in infrastructure development, including in cyber security infrastructure, to ensure that everyone gets connected, remains connected, and that adequate infrastructure is available for the increasingly bandwidth-hungry and complex services and content, especially in a highly inter-connected and cyber-threat prone environment. Thus, we need to adopt a multi-prong collaboration and incentivization strategy among Operators and Governments.