Top Five Initiatives to Combat Cybercrimes in Africa
07:41 GMT 01.12.2022 (Updated: 08:11 GMT 01.12.2022)
Earlier this week, Uganda's Police Force warned the public about cyber-fraudsters and conmen ahead of the Christmas season, urging those who had fallen victim to online fraud to file a report. The warning comes amid a series of media reports in other African countries about the rampant activity of cybercriminals.
Cybercrime is becoming a more and more urgent threat to global prosperity, as it affects not only individual people and companies, but also critical infrastructure and governments.
In Africa, where internet traffic is doubling every 18 months, according to existing estimations, the need to step up cybersecurity efforts is viewed by observers to be much higher than in other parts of the world. According to the Investor Monitor site, only 10% of businesses in Africa have cybersecurity protocols in place.
In the period between January 2020 and February 2021, Japanese cyber software company Trend Micro recorded 679 million threat detections sent via email, 8.2 million detections in files as well as 14.3 million detections on the web across the African continent.
Given the complex nature and the seriousness of the issue of cybercrime, as well as the increasing number and complexity of threats, governments and organizations around the world are doing their best to tackle the issue.
Check out Sputnik's top five initiatives and efforts to thwart cybercrime in Africa.
1. Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Trends in Africa Initiative
The initiative was launched in mid-2016 by the African Union Commission and Symantec, a multinational software company that delivers data-centric hybrid security, as part of the Global Forum for Cybersecurity Expertise (GFCE) Initiative, a global platform for the cyber capacity building community. It was supported by a number of governments and organization from all around the world, including the US, the AU members, the Council of Europe and Organization of American States.
The initiative’s aim is to produce reports that analyze cybersecurity gaps, threats and trends and provides detailed technical information on them and their potential impact on internet users in Africa. The gathered data is made available to governments and other interested parties for use in combating cybercrime and enhancing cybersecurity.
In November 2016, the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Trends in Africa initiative published its first report which covered various cybersecurity issues such as the rise of ransomware, cryptolocker, social media, scams, and email threats, among other cyber vulnerabilities.
2. The West African Response on Cybersecurity and Fight against Cybercrime (OCWAR-C) Project
This project is being implemented as a joint-effort between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union. The project was launched in February 2019, and it covers only the ECOWAS member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) as well as Mauritania.
The OCWAR-C project aims to contribute to strengthening cybersecurity and fighting cybercrime in the West African region through the cooperation of the project member states. It seeks the improvement of the information infrastructure and the capacity of the stakeholders in charge of combating cybercrime in the ECOWAS region.
The OCWAR-C project has already adopted a Regional Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Strategy that draws up the cybersecurity response framework for the ECOWAS member states.
3. African Joint Operation against Cybercrime (AFJOC) by INTERPOL
Initiated in 2021 by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the project's goal is to improve the potential of 49 African nations to battle cybercrime and coordinate intelligence-led measures against cybercriminals.
INTERPOL’s African cybercrime desk initiative is set to coordinate the efforts of the African governments against cybercrime, and establish work processes that law enforcement agencies across Africa can continue to implement beyond the life of the two-year project.
The project is also set to publish an Africa Cybercrime Threat Assessment on an annual basis, as well as to lead information campaigns to raise awareness about cyber-related threats.
INTERPOL's most recent effort to fight cybercrime in Africa was a four-month operation (from July to November 2022) dubbed the Africa Cyber Surge Operation (ACSO). The operation saw law enforcement officials from different African countries join forces to detect, investigate and disrupt cybercrime through coordinated activities utilizing platforms, tools and channels of INTERPOL and the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL).
4. Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (the Malabo Convention)
In 2011, the African Union drafted its Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (known as the Malabo Convention) as part of the AU Agenda 2063 for transforming Africa.
The convention was adopted in 2014 with its main goal to create “a credible framework for cybersecurity in Africa through the organization of electronic transactions, protection of personal data, promotion of cybersecurity, e-governance and combating cyber crime.”
Although the AU has recognized cybersecurity as a main priority to ensure that emerging technologies benefit African people and companies, as of November 2022, only 14 African countries have signed the convention. However, the AU convention seeks to build a joint Information Society in Africa in order to organize and regulate cyber-related issues in the continent.
5. Africa Cyber Experts (ACE) Community
The formation of the ACE Community, which was created in partnership with the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, was one of the African Union’s efforts to support cyber capacity-building in the continent.
As part of the recently established AU Cyber Security Experts Group, the ACE seeks to craft and implement Africa’s cybersecurity strategy. The ACE Community gathers in one place cyber experts from all across the continent to promote cybersecurity capacity building in Africa, as well as share experience dealing with cybercrime, cybernorms, privacy and cyberdiplomacy.
The Community kicked off its first ever meeting in Ghana in March 2022 with the aim to bring together broad-based national-level coordination and cooperation to combat cross-border cyber-enabled organized crime, violent extremism, and malicious activities in the African cyberspace.