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CS Owalo assures digital data safety in e-citizen

Information, Communications and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has assured Kenyans that their digital data contained in the E-Citizen is safe.

CS Owalo said on Friday that despite the attempted cyber-attack on government digital services on Thursday, the attackers who targeted government and private institutions did not manage to infringe the privacy of or interfere with the Kenyan data contained in various digital platforms.

He confirmed it was a botched cyberattack and that the mitigation framework around the system repulsed the attempt, thus the Kenyan data was not alternated or interfered with.

He said the attackers tried to jam the system by making over and above ordinary levels of requests to the system so that they interfered with the efficiency and effectiveness of the platform.

“On Thursday evening, our technical team managed to restore our system and Kenyans should feel free to explore government digital services. The government is committed to dealing with cybercrime now that many government services are being rendered using digital platforms,” said the CS when he launched Jitume Digital Laboratories in Mathioya and Michuki Technical Institutes in Murang’a County.

He reiterated that cyberattacks would not deter the government’s efforts to provide key services through digital platforms.

“Currently, more than 5,000 government services are offered through digital platforms and those criminal attacks on our systems will not stop us from exploiting digital advancements,” added Owalo.

He noted that the government is investing hugely in digital developments in an effort to exploit opportunities in the digital world, especially for youth.

“We are currently establishing Jitume digital laboratories in various parts of the country to boost digital literacy and provide a platform for young people to exploit online jobs. The Jitume programme has been designed to equip TVETs countrywide with 23, 000 virtual desktops and through this programme we expect to equip one million learners with market-ready business and ICT-related courses for free,” explained the CS.

Owalo said the government is also reaching out to global technological companies to provide digital jobs for Kenyan youth.

Water CS Alice Wahome, who accompanied Owalo, urged young people to maximally exploit the opportunities provided by the government to earn a living.

Information CS Eliud Owalo joins students of Michuki Technical Institute to launch Jitume digital laboratory on Friday, July 28, 2023. Photo by Bernard Munyao.

“Our young people need to fully use these laboratories and earn a living. The money the government is using to establish the digital laboratories is a lot and we want our young people to work and earn income through digital jobs,” she said.

Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie, who chairs Parliamentary Committee on Communication, Information and Technology, said the Jitume centres the government has established are proving to be a game changer for youth.

He said there is an oversubscription of digital jobs to be done, thus indicating many young people are embracing the services of the digital centres.

“Some of the Jitume centres in the country are running on a 24-hour basis, where there are three 8-hour shifts. This shows the young people are quite committed to doing online jobs, which makes them global citizens who are globally employable,” he added.

On the cyberattack, Kiarie said the National Assembly is working on a legal, legislative and policy framework to govern cyberspace operations.

He stressed that Kenya has a robust data protection law to curb cybercrime that was put in place by the 12th Parliament.

“I urge Kenyans not to fear transacting their services through online platforms as their data is legally protected,” he noted.

Mathioya MP Edwin Mugo praised the establishment of the Jitume centre in his constituency, saying it would provide jobs to thousands of local youths.

He noted that the local NG-CDF is working to install WiFi spots at various parts of the constituency to enable those engaged in digital jobs to work from their homes.

“In Mathioya, we have four Ajira digital hubs and we are targeting installing WiFi spots to support online working. The move will assist in mitigating unemployment among our young people,” added Mugo.

By Bernard Munyao and Anita Omwenga

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