No. 70: President Obama is Going to Kenya: Dumb or Nah?

Witney Schneidman, Fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote this rebuttal of Harvard professor Robert Rotberg’s Politico piece which panned President Obama’s upcoming trip to the country for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit as a bad idea.

Quick thoughts:

  • I’m not sure President Obama tacking on a trip to Ethiopia would go over well with Africa watchers, given the flap over Gayle Smith’s nomination for US AID administrator. Africa watchers…that’s a pretty bad tag line. Who coined it?
  • The parallel between this trip and President Kennedy’s trip to Ireland is a nice one. The country was experiencing violence of its own at the time and was still dealing with Britain not respecting its independence.
  • Professor Rotberg’s analysis of President Obama’s impact on ethnic tensions reinforces President Obama’s remarks last week during Start the Spark, an entrepreneurship initiative the Administration is launching: “And entrepreneurship breaks down barriers between cultures and between faiths at a time when we need more than ever the capacity to understand and work across borders.” Since President Obama is going to Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summitt, this is an opportunity to highlight the breaking down of ethnic tensions.

I’m excited about President Obama going to Kenya. He can’t visit Africa enough in my book. His trip focusing on entrepreneurship at a global scale is really cool and it will be interesting to see African entrepreneurial stories within a global context rather than in something of a vacuum. 

No. 63: What is Happening in Africa’s Cybersecurity Space?

Andreessen Horowitz just wrapped up a series on the current cyber security landscape. It got me thinking about what the cybersecurity landscape looks like in African countries. In particular, I’m interested in cybersecurity work going on at the intersection of telecommunications and banking. Nigeria has a policy of reducing the circulation of cash in the economy by 2020, and launched a national ID card program last year that incorporates banking capabilities. The dominance of mPesa and mobile money in Kenya has been the talk of the town for several years now.

My two main questions are:

1. What are the cybersecurity risks companies and the respective countries are dealing with here?

2. Who are the leading companies working on these issues?

Look out for a future post on this after I talk to some folks and read up a bit.

Here are links to the Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) security series:

Getting Security Right Isn’t As Hard as You Think (But the Effort Never Ends)

Barbarians at the Gate — How to Think About Enterprise Security Today

Making Security More Usable

My three takeaways from the series are:

1. Companies can no longer think about their security in binary terms, that is, “We are breached. We are not breached.” Today, the thinking is more, “We are probably breached right now. What are we doing to mitigate the impact of this.”

2. Security and speed historically have somewhat of an inverse relationship. As content moves back and forth faster, the harder it is to ensure that nothing compromises it.

3. After seeing what happened to Target’s executive team after their highly publicized credit card breach, company executives are communicating more with their security teams to ensure that they have the systems in place to mitigate similar attacks that could get them fired.