Kenyans must stop cybercrime before it's too late, says CS Amina Mohamed

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (right) confers with the United Arab Emirates Chief Safety Risk Specialist Captain Nasir Iqbal (left),Kenya Civil Aviation Authority State Safety Programme Coordinator Keystone Aketch (second left) and World Food Programme Regional Director Valerie Guarnieri when she presided over the opening of the Aviation Campaign Conference held at a Nairobi Hotel. PHOTO: DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD

NAIROBI: Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has pointed out the high risk of cyber warfare in promoting terrorism.

According to the CS, the cyber weapon might replace the hijacker and the bomber as the terrorism weapon of choice.

"The aviation industry is vulnerable to this kind of warfare due to the increasing reliance on computer systems for almost every aspect of its business," said Ms Mohamed during a seminar on Aviation Safety Campaign at a Nairobi hotel.

Previously, Twitter accounts of Kenya Defence Forces and its spokesperson Maj Emmanuel Chirchir have been hacked.

Mohamed, while opening the campaign, recognised the importance of civil aviation in promoting travel and tourism - the world's largest economic sector. "In general, the health of civil aviation is a good barometer for the general strength of national economies and the world economy as a whole," read her statement Monday.

But she said the sector has been exposed to disasters, therefore highlighting the need to enhance security.

The seminar brought together experts from airlines, airports, aviation sector service providers and regulatory bodies to deliberate on ideas aimed at boosting safety.

Despite Africa commanding the least air traffic, 3 per cent, the continent reported the world's highest rate of fatal commercial aviation accidents, according to Aviation Safety Network.

The network added that African crashes accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the 29 accidents and 265 fatalities worldwide involving passenger and cargo planes.

The CS said part of safety risks in the industry arise from the use of older aircraft which risk frequent breakdowns and need high maintenance and operating costs.

To address the concern, Mohamed said there is need to consistently implement and enforce internationally accepted safety standards and practices.

"We must embrace the global benchmarks for aviation safety both on the ground and in the air as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation," she said, adding that that all African countries must open their airspace.

While 24 African countries have agreements with foreign airlines on this, these deals do not exist among states in the continent.