New laws to help curb cybercrime across Africa

Wednesday May 31 2017

In 2016, countries on the continent lost at least $2 billion in cyber attacks. PHOTO | FILE

Cybercrime targeting the continent is expected to decline following the launch of Internet infrastructure security guidelines.

The Internet Society and the African Union Commission (AUC) unveiled the guidelines on Wednesday at the Africa Internet Summit in Nairobi.

They are part of the "African Union convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection" adopted by member states in 2014.

“Africa has achieved major strides in developing its Internet infrastructure in the past decade. However, the Internet won’t provide the aspired benefits unless we can trust it,” said Dawit Bekele, Africa regional bureau director for the Internet Society.

Internet Society partnered with African and global security experts in developing the regulations.



The continent's Internet infrastructure environment faces a unique combination of challenges including gaps in cyber security laws and a lack of awareness exposing it to the growing threat of cybercrime.

“This is another milestone given the new security challenges in cyberspace,” said Moctar Yeday, the head of Information Society Division at the AUC. "The African Union Commission will continue its partnership with the Internet Society on a second set of guidelines addressing personal data protection.”

The launch of the regulations comes in the wake of "WannaCry," the world’s largest cyberattack a fortnight ago that hit more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries.

More than $33,300 was lost to the attack that wreaked havoc on organisations and large companies including LATAM airlines and Britain’s Health System.

Africa was least hit by the attack but the report says the need to implement security measures against malware incidents is increasingly important due to the continent's growing Internet penetration.

Internet penetration

About25.1 per cent of Africans are now online driven by a sustained double-digit growth in Internet penetration over the past 10 years, data published last year by the International Telecommunication Union shows.

In 2016, countries on the continent lost at least $2 billion in cyber attacks, according to a report by Serianu, an information technology services and business consulting firm.

Across East Africa, Kenya recorded the highest losses at $171 million; Tanzania lost $85 million while Ugandan companies lost $35 million.

Internet penetration in Kenya grew by 4.4 per cent to 89.7 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, attributed to affordable smartphones and data bundles, according to the latest industry report.