Cybercrime appears to be wreaking havoc across the African continent, amid a pulsating episode of digital explosion. In September 2020, Kaspersky reported that Africa registered a total of 28 million cyber attacks between January and August 2020.
In the face of such alarming numbers, many observers believe that the threat of cybercrime in Africa is not being taken seriously, despite the damage it is already doing to their economies.
An international summit on cybersecurity that was supposed to take place on the 25th and 26th of October in Lomé, the capital of Togo, was canceled at the last minute without explanation or any reasons given.
In a vulnerable continent like Africa, which has a weak and outdated infrastructure and is struggling to develop while spending less, little or nothing on ICTs, experts strongly believe that there could be serious consequences if cybercriminals surrender a big blow to your computer systems.
Poorva Karkare, Policy Officer at the European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), told BizTech Africa this week that “in a context where the digital revolution is increasingly being leveraged to bring development into different aspects of life, there could be serious repercussions.
“This includes building trust among the population (consumers and beneficiaries) to share their data with governments or private entities.” “Africa is lagging behind and a lot more needs to be done, but the questions around costs are really valid.
Many industry observers have suggested that Africa lags behind many continents in cybersecurity, which they say is seriously lacking in many public and private organizations in Africa, including SMEs.
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“Instead of having the best legislation (but without implementation capacities), it may be better to identify the specific problems that are most relevant in the African context and try to focus legislative and implementation efforts on those that solve them.
“THIS WOULD REQUIRE MORE DIAGNOSTIC STUDIES ON WHAT THE SITUATION IS ON THE CONTINENT.”
Asked why Africa seems to be downplaying the cybersecurity issue unlike, for example, Europe, where governments seem to be flexing their muscles, Karkare replied: “It’s still not clear how big the threat is, either because there is a lack of information or because policy makers are not convinced.
“There is no doubt that the protection of personal data is important. But perhaps what is considered criminal activity in Europe is not immediately classified in African countries for lack of legislation or simply because of different realities, preferences and political priorities.
“For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is rigorous compared to legislation in other parts of the world with different criminal penalties and ideas about the free flow of information.
“Therefore, a direct comparison with the EU, while desirable, may not be fully valid.”
However, Poorva Karkare said that in terms of cybersecurity there is a need to combine efforts to bring criminal intelligence, law enforcement (including the enactment of legislation), regional capabilities and cross-border cooperation, as well as raising public awareness.
However, Karkare said that in a context where governments are fighting fires and trying to solve so many problems, perhaps cybercrime has not risen on the priority list.