By Ikechukwu Nnamani
One key finding that has continued to surface in all the previous Nigerian cyber security reports is the shortage of qualified cyber security experts to handle the cyber threat facing the country. Nigeria unfortunately ranks the lowest in Africa in terms of certified cyber security expert per citizen.
A review of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Nigerian Cyber Security Reports indicates that while the population of the country has increased from 185 million to 195 million over that period, the number of certified cyber security experts to handle the threats to the country only marginally increased from 1,500 to 3,500 over the same period. In simple terms, in 2016, there was one cyber security expert for every 124,587 Nigerians, while this marginally improved to one expert for every 106,048 Nigerians in 2017; in 2018, it abysmally stood at one expert for every 103,093 citizens.
Within this same period timeline, the estimated cost of cyber-crime in Nigeria stood at $550 million and $649 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively. This clearly shows that the country is ill-equipped to deal with the threats from cyber criminals from a human resources stand point.
This presents a grave danger for the country in being able to secure its criminal national infrastructure. As the country embraces more digital services with the prevalence and convergence of telecoms, broadcasting, healthcare, and the financial sectors, the threats posed by cyber criminals can no longer the ignored.
The dire situation of Nigeria with respect to cyber threat is further exasperated by the fact that between 2016 and 2018, the number of active telecom subscribers in the country increased from 154 million to 172 million users. This means that more citizens have become vulnerable to cyber threats as there is more adoption of technology and connectivity of the citizens.
Nigeria is blessed with a youthful and highly educated population with the median age estimated at 18.4 years. Over 55 percent of the Nigerian Population is below 35 years old. Over 500,000 fresh graduates join the workforce every year. Youth unemployment is rate is over 36 percent and is rising, which has been rightly stated as a time bomb waiting to explode.
Training the Nigerian youth on cyber security skill presents a very viable opportunity to resolving the youth unemployment while at the same time, securing the country. It is all record that all certified cyber security experts in Nigeria are gainfully employed. Nigeria can, and should take the advantage of its well educated youthful population to build a strong cyber security workforce and become and become a global player in the cyber security space.
The formal education curriculum will need to be updated to include cyber security training starting from the high school curriculum all the way to university level. Non formal education with private sector training and short duration certification programs should be explored to build a strong cyber security work force for the country.
Teaching the youth early adoption of cyber security habits will ensure that as they become older, they will continue with the practice as a way of life. This will not only make the next generation of Nigerians cyber security experts, but will ensure that individuals and organizations in the country in the country continue to operate above the cyber security poverty line.
• Ikechukwu Nnamani is President, Demadiur System Limited and President, Medallion Communications