Full of enthusiasm for studies in a field new to him, Desta, 25, is hoping to learn all he can about cybersecurity and to one day return to Addis Ababa to apply what he’s learned. He wants to expand his communication consulting business to include cybersecurity.

- Why did you decide to come to Vilnius for studies?

- I was checking the Internet for Master’s Degree programmes in Europe regarding cybersecurity. I was also looking at population figures, at how developed a country is and where it stands in terms of Internet connectivity. I did lots of research online about Lithuania. I found a cybersecurity programme here in Vilnius that suited me at Mykolas Romeris University and applied.

- Why did you decide to study cybersecurity? After all, you already have a medical degree and another degree in Management.

- I’m studying cybersecurity because demand is increasing for cybersecurity not only in my country, but worldwide. I went online to find the right university in Europe to study this subject.

I want to have my own consulting company in cybersecurity and communication in the future. I want to work in this area in Ethiopia.

Desta Gebrehawaria Gebregziabher

- What surprised you here in Lithuania?

- Nothing surprised me. It met my expectations. I found the people here very friendly and helpful. This is not the first time that I am in Europe. I have visited France, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Italy and Germany. I am ok with new environments, meeting new people and learning about other cultures. When I arrived at the Vilnius airport, I was shocked to find out how small it is (he laughs).

- What are the biggest differences between your country and Lithuania?

- Lithuania is green and Ethiopia is not. Lithuania is a small country with a small population compared to the 110-million people that live in Ethiopia. Lithuania, however is much more Internet-connected than Ethiopia. The Internet is not so widely developed in my country. The WiFi also works very well in Lithuania. Despite the fact that Lithuania is a tiny country in terms of population, it scores high in terms of cybersecurity. Lithuanians are doing an amazing job in the cybersecurity field – along with Estonia.

In the 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), Lithuania is ranked 6th of 182 countries evaluated and behind only such countries as Estonia, Spain, Korea, U.S. and U.K. It’s a great result. I think that the security environment – that you are close to countries known for hacking such as Belarus and Russia, is what makes Lithuania strong in this area. When we (Ethiopians) get developed, we need to be secured. When we get or attain something, we need to keep that technical – information secured. So, the demand is high globally for cybersecurity specialists.

- You also write poetry in your spare time?

- Yes, I have published a book of poetry in Tigrigna language called, “Ideas with no Idea” (Hasab Zenbiom Hasabat”). I used to write fiction.

- Have you found any other Ethiopians here?

- In Vilnius, up to now, I have found no one – not met any Ethiopians.

- Anything you do not like or is bad here in Lithuania?

- Bad is something common – the pandemic. The pandemic is disturbing. The lockdowns and the restrictions have impacted everyone around the world.

- Any plans after graduation next year?

- Yes, I plan to study in a PhD programme – either here or somewhere abroad in the cybersecurity field. I want to stay in Europe for doctoral studies and then return to Ethiopia.

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