The U.S. Department of State partnered with NACOSTI to conduct a two-day specialized training course on Developing and Implementing Cybersecurity Risk Management Programs in High Containment Laboratories in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia on 23rd and 26th April 2023 in Mombasa, Kenya. The training course was attended by four countries: Kenya (host), South Africa, Gabon, and Sierra Leone.

Prof. Walter O. Oyawa, DG NACOSTI, stated in his opening remarks that ‘The world is going through unprecedented times dictated by pandemics, climate change, regional conflicts, overflow of migrants seeking greener pastures, and emerging frontier technologies that have brought to the forefront issues of dual use technologies.

“As we transit into the fifth industrial revolution where more and more of our physical world gets connected to and controlled by the virtual/digital world, and more of our business and personal information goes digital format, cyber risks become increasingly more complex’’

‘’Accordingly, managing cyber risk across an organization is now becoming harder than ever before. The desire to keep our systems secure and compliant requires more resources, more updating of skills, and vigilance.’’

In her statement, Dr. Julia Scordo of the US Department of State’s Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction stated, “’President Biden has pledged continued commitment of the United States to work in partnerships with governments and institutions in Africa to build stronger health systems and strengthen global health security.”

‘’As global health security is evolving and becoming more advanced, we need to expand our partnership and common goals to include cyber-biosecurity, the intersection between laboratory biosecurity and cybersecurity. ‘’

The training provided participants with the knowledge and skills needed to assess cyber risk, implement critical cybersecurity mitigations in their own laboratories, and promote cyber risk management capability regionally and globally.

The program ultimately seeks to develop global leaders in addressing cybersecurity risks in biological laboratories buy developing consistent cyber risk assessment methods and risk mitigation approaches relevant to life sciences laboratories, especially in the aftermath of COVID 19 Pandemic.