Rwanda is seeking $1.5 million for the construction of a cyber-security centre that will coordinate investigations in eastern Africa against cybercrimes and cyber-enabled crimes such as terrorism, trafficking and money laundering.
“Cybercrime is a major threat affecting all nations alike, requiring unity of effort. Rwanda’s regional cybercrime centre being established in Kigali will help enhance operational, capacity building and rapid responses," Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana said adding that the centre will also be connected to other global cybercrime centres in Lyon and Singapore.
He was speaking on Wednesday during the 18th Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (EAPCCO) annual general meeting in Kigali.
President Paul Kagame, speaking during the opening session, called on the EAPCCO member states to collaborate more and avert 'real dangers' to development paused by cybercrimes.
President Kagame also said the new cyber security centre would be a major milestone which would foster better coordination among investigators and improve regional engagement with Interpol towards curbing sophisticated crime.
The five-day forum that kicked off on August 28 to September 2, organised by EAPCCO and Interpol, has brought together close to 100 participants from over 30 countries.
“Recent operations in the region underline the importance for police to make full use of Interpol’s policing capabilities to exchange and access vital information. Crimes and criminals cross borders and regions, making it imperative to share criminal information, resources and skills to stay ahead of the curve,” said Interpol's Secretary General Jürgen Stock Stock.
Mr Stock had earlier in the meeting laid the foundation stone for the regional cybercrime centre in Kigali before outlining to police chiefs how, through its Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, Interpol provides cutting-edge research and capacity building on new forms of crime.
EAPCCO member states include Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Seychelles, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Cybercrime ranks as this year's second most reported economic crime and is steadily growing in Africa, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Rwanda adopted its maiden national cyber security policy last year to safeguard government information and infrastructure against cyber-attacks.
In February, a hacker group called Anonymous breached the security of Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC) — a private company that provides the government with video conferencing technology — and dumped its private data on the Internet.
The data included detailed contacts of employees of BSC, email exchanges and encrypted passwords.
The group also hacked websites in Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
A survey by Kaspersky Lab in January showed that cybercrime has damaged many businesses across Africa.
Kenya is the hardest hit in East Africa, according to the survey, with businesses in the country losing as much as $146 million every year due to cybercrime, while 21 per cent of the organisations in Kenya are “not aware or concerned of cybercrime threats”.
A key challenge to combating cybercrime in many African countries is the lack of dedicated modern equipment to detect and report such crimes, the survey says.
During the meeting Mr Gasana took over the chairmanship of EAPCCO from Kenya’s IGP Joseph Boinnet.