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ICT experts meet in Nairobi to discuss building trust in digital economy

Themed Building Trust in a Digital World: The Future of the NPKI, the forum serves as a pivotal platform for relevant licensees in the ICT industry, such as the ICT Authority, whose role is to issue digital certification subscribers to government agencies.

ICT industry stakeholders drawn from different countries are meeting in Nairobi to discuss ways of unlocking digital trust, a move that could see more opportunities being realised within the digital economy.

During a two-day 2024 National Public Key Infrastructure Forum hosted by the Communications Authority of Kenya, experts from Uganda, Cameroon, India, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Ghana are discussing the need for developing standards that can enable the consumption of digital innovations in a secure way across the borders.

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Themed Building Trust in a Digital World: The Future of the NPKI, the forum which started on Tuesday serves as a pivotal platform for relevant licensees in the ICT industry, such as the ICT Authority, whose role is to issue digital certification subscribers to government agencies.

Speaking during the Forum on behalf of Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary, Information, Communications and Digital Economy,Prof. Edward Kisiang’ani, Principal Secretary, State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications, noted the importance of building trust while driving connectivity, not only for Kenya but also for the other countries.

“The theme in this forum, which focuses on enhancing the security of our digital infrastructure, is important. I am happy that this discussion is going on because it feeds into the international concerns that we have had elsewhere. As you know, UNESCO last year had a meeting on digital trust and although we have not resolved this, the conversation is going on.”

“Building a secure digital superhighway means that we can create an environment in which Kenya’s digital economy thrives and our citizens derive value in the immense possibilities in the digital space,” added PS Kisiang’ani.

The PS noted that the government has rolled out 8,419 kilometres of fibre, and 2,261 free Wi-Fi hotspots as they look forward to working connecting more Kenyans to the internet.

PS Kisiang’ani called upon more collaborations within the cybersecurity industry to develop frameworks to facilitate safe digital platform transactions.

Speaking on digital trust and e-commerce, Philip Irode, Deputy Director of Information Security at the ICT Authority, called on other certification agencies to collaborate with the ICT Authority in the process of issuance of digital signatures.

‘‘As a government certification Authority, we have to acknowledge and therefore recognize digital signatures issued by other registration agencies because it is through that recognition that you are able to ascertain that these digital signatures are valid and recognized. So, the chain of security from the issuing Authority to the individual signing it is actually assured by that mutual collaboration”, said Irode.

‘‘We really want our citizenry to adopt online services and the ICT Authority is here through the issuance of digital signatures that will make, number one, cost of transactions cheaper, two, we are breaking the barriers of bureaucracy and we are also reducing the cost and time in the turnaround time of in whatever service or transaction one is doing.” he added.

The National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI) is a system used for the creation, storage, and distribution of digital certificates, which are used to verify that a particular public key (online/virtual identity) belongs to a certain entity.

Digital signatures also help identify transacting parties to confirm whether the transaction has been changed or not and to prove the facts of the transaction.

The need for proper identification of digital signatures has become more crucial as more government services become digitized, noting that more than 15,000 government services have been uploaded to the e-citizen platform.

The experts also called upon regulators and standardization bodies within cyberspace to develop standards that promote harmonization and interoperability of the innovations.

 

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