If implemented properly and carefully, these technologies could reduce or eliminate the imbalance between rich and poor, powerful and marginalised. As a result of the convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting and computers, the ICTs sector now embraces a large range of industries and services. The potential of ICTs to transform development is now receiving greater attention worldwide. The effective use of technology is dependent not only on the technology but also on factors that are independent of the technology, including cyber security.
Empirical evidence indicates that ICT diffusion has a positive impact on GDP growth. Introduction of new technologies often follows a similar technology maturity lifecycle which describes the technological maturity of a product. Diffusion is the process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.
Innovations diffuse through a social system. Introducing a new innovation in a social system, such as those associated with the use of ICTs, should consider the characteristics of the target population, the characteristics of the innovation, and the stages of adoption. However, cyber security, IT governance and the WikiLeaks phenomena are major challenges to the effective utilisation of ICTs.
There is a close correlation between the country’s info-state and GDP per capita. For every point increase in info-density, GDP per capita increases by an approximate US$150, rendering widespread, affordable access to information services an absolute imperative. Data on info-density obtained from the International Telecommunications Union shows that the mobile density of Zimbabwe more than doubled from 24% in 2009 to 60% in 2010. The mobile density of Zimbabwe is now at 72% as of March 2012, and has the highest growth rate among all the African countries.
A similar leading trend is also being witnessed in the growth rate for internet access as a percentage of the population. Internet access from various platforms has brought tremendous opportunities and challenges on the effective use of these ICTs.
The key challenges notably include cyber security and IT governance and these affect E-business in all its forms such as E-banking, E-commerce, E-learning, E-marriages and security and confidentiality metrics, insurance, risk management, IT audits and policies, electronic payment systems, customs and taxation, uncertainty in national legal and tax systems, and cooperation of sovereign governments.
Incidences of cyber crime in Zimbabwe are on the increase and need to be quantified through research. The prevalence of cyber criminals is a worrying development as Zimbabwe grows more reliant on ICTs.
The chances of people experiencing negative incidents and becoming victims to online crime are greater now. These losses can potentially affect the country in terms of image, reputation, investor confidence and security. The 2011 Global Economic Crime Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers has classified online crime as one of the top four economic crimes globally. Local organisations are beginning to recognise the threat of internal cyber crime as well.
There is an urgent need to raise awareness on and take precautions to mitigate against cyber crime in Zimbabwe. There have been several cases of cheating through the Internet where some victims lost all their hard-earned savings. Cyber criminals take advantage of human weaknesses and strike mercilessly.
Interpol estimated that the losses resulting from cyber crime are larger than the global black market for marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. The increasing spate of cyber crimes, not only in Zimbabwe, but worldwide calls for harnessing the latest technology to combat cyber crime. The Internet and the computer are the most common tools that we use in our daily life, but a computer can be used as a target, a weapon or an accessory in cyber crimes.
On February 23, US President Barack Obama wrote a cover letter in support of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights to protect consumers online and stated : “Never has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones. In just the last decade, the Internet has enabled a renewal of direct political engagement by citizens around the globe and an explosion of commerce and innovation creating jobs for the future.”
In this situation, the White House proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as part of a strategy to improve consumers’s privacy protections and to ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth. These rights give consumers clear guidance on what they should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data.
The IT Governance and Cyber Security conference scheduled for May 22 to 24 at the HICC in Harare, is an event purposed to address common security risks being faced by 21st century organisations as they use ICTs.
It is envisaged that national cyber security capability maps can be developed for the various sectors of the Zimbabwean economy. The event could lead to the establishment of an IT Governance and Cyber Security Institute for sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Kabanda is the chairperson of the IT Governance and Cyber Security Conference: firstname.lastname@example.org