Uncle Sam is the patron of the Luxembourg Internet Days 2022 and he came to pat his nephew, prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP), on the back. Not with a dirty joke, but with an invitation to go faster, stronger and higher.
"On my way here this morning, I wondered what this conference would have looked like 40 years ago? A moment of silence later in the large auditorium of the Chamber of Commerce, the ambassador of the United States--the guest country of honour of the event--Thomas Barrett, answered his own question. "It would have been an empty room. The internet, connectivity, cybersecurity... 99.9% of people would have been scratching their heads wondering what you were talking about."
Things have changed, Barrett continued. "Things in cybersecurity are changing even so fast that this conference will be totally different in three years. We are changing because we have been changed. The prime minister [Xavier Bettel] talked about attacks on hospitals, on universities, on banks. Everything is real. We now have an obligation: to work together--governments and the private sector--to do everything we can do to protect ourselves."
US Ambassador takes up Nation Branding
The ambassador invited Luxembourg to turn this challenge into an opportunity. "When people ask me what it's like to live here, I say it's a fantastic experience, the people are fantastic, they speak many languages--I'm very happy to be fluent in English--and I'm very impressed with how Luxembourg has pivoted over the years. For years, in the south of the country, steel was a major industry, a very important part of the economy, but the political authorities and the entrepreneurs agreed that this should change. The decision to pivot and become a financial hub was taken. No matter who made that decision, it was implemented to keep Luxembourg relevant and powerful economically. In terms of the economic chess game of moving your company forward, Luxembourg has done a phenomenal job!"
Barrett said that the foundations are there to make cybersecurity the next opportunity for Luxembourg, which can count on a much lighter bureaucracy than most countries. "Let's make it happen! We can do this!" Barrett said, concluding with Luxembourg's nation branding slogan.
As they ate their mini-burgers and fries, the thousand or so experts who had registered for this ninth edition of the Luxembourg Internet Days, organised by the Luxembourg Internet exchange (Lu-cix), were lapping it up, despite the difficulties that lie ahead: the shortage of experts, pointed out by the prime minister, the lack of interest among SMEs in the subject, and the extreme complexity of cybersecurity, highlighted by Microsoft's National Technology Officer, David Dab. These problems highlight both the opportunities and the need for increased collaboration.
This article was originally published in French by Paperjam and has been translated by Delano.