Over the last decade, Africa has made significant investments in increasing its information and communications technology (ICT) network infrastructures. These investments have played a major role in driving the continent’s economic growth, which has been projected to continue increasing over the next several years. Africa experienced this boom in ICT use and broadband services within the last several years partly as a result of the implementation of the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to cooperate “with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication.” However, Africa’s ICT networks have been largely deployed without adequate cybersecurity measures. The global and ubiquitous nature of cyberspace poses a great cybersecurity risk to the reliability of infrastructure critical to all networks and systems in cyberspace.
Cyber threats exploit the increased complexity and interconnectivity of critical infrastructure systems. In cyberspace, the whole is only as strong as its weakest link, and in Africa, the majority of the continent’s ICT infrastructures are frail and poorly protected from cyber threats and attacks. As such, any threats to Africa’s ICT networks pose great risk to not just Africa’s interests but also to U.S. interests.
Furthermore, Africa’s huge investments in ICT network infrastructures have mostly been necessitated by the need to foster the continent’s economic growth. The projected and potential economic growths from these investments are, however, threatened if African ICT networks are not afforded adequate cybersecurity measures. Africa’s insecure ICT networks also threaten the reliability of critical infrastructures upon which the United States’ economic and national security is dependent. Other impacts to U.S. interest include financial losses to its businesses and organizations, frustrations regarding its foreign direct investment opportunities in Africa, and undermining U.S. policy on Internet freedom.