Article critical review :fighting cybercrime in Africa

Africa happens to be the main leader when it comes to cybercrimes and it is largely due to the fact that most of its computer systems are not well protected. The continent lacks a well-coordinated approach mostly due to its underdevelopment and poverty (Mendina & Britz, 2014).  Another contributor to the problem has to do with a lack of awareness in the continent and specialized training. Nigeria has come out as the main country that is the continent leader when it comes to cyber-crimes. Cybercrimes consist of computers and a person and either could be a target.  Hacking for instance will involve attacking a computer in order to obtain the resources and information therein (Kshetri, 2013). An individual could also become the main target and in such a case the computer becomes a tool.
Nature of cybercrimes
The cybercrimes committed could range from those that involve less technical to high technical expertise. Crimes have existed ever since time immemorial before the development of high tech equipment. The same criminal elements that existed then have only been given a tool which enhances their potential and which increases their mystery.  This study looked at these crimes and in particular those that are committed through computers and the internet. The study looked at the attempts that are being made by African countries in fighting cybercrime. The researchers looked at the pervasive nature of the phenomenon of cybercrime. They also looked at the factors that lead to these kinds of crimes and the need to have a collaboration between Africa and the developed world so that the fight against cybercrime goes a notch higher.  The proliferation of cybercrimes is mostly due to the lack of a legal framework in most of the African countries. The article and many others observe that there is a need to have top-level government officials, policymakers and implementation groups coupled with implementation groups as an attempt at fighting cybercrime. A good collaboration of all these sector players is a good platform for ensuring cybercrime is fought.
Lusthaus (2018) observes that cybercriminals see Africa as a potential place to operate illegally with impunity. Symantec in a study done in 2014 observed that there were an estimated 24 million malware incidents in Africa only. The same report observed that Africa posted a high rising cybercrime rate compared to any other region in the world. In 2016, Ghana reported that it had experienced more than 400,000 incidents that were related to malware cases. Of these, 44 million were related to spam emails and 280,000 related to botnets (Omidiji, 2015).
Africa is also attractive to cybercriminals mostly due to the high degree of digitization of economic activities. In South Africa, for instance, about 86% of the banking population regularly use of online banking services. This proportion is higher compared to the one that exists in the Middle East and Turkey. The prevalence in cyberattacks in the continent is also attributed to vulnerable systems and lax cybersecurity practices. Business Software Alliance observed in 2017 that the top two countries in the entire world that had the highest software piracy rates happened to be in Africa. With the existence of pirated software, the problem of the spread of malware increases.
In Africa also, cybersecurity is considered a luxury and most countries do not emphasize it. Most companies allocate less than 1% of their budget on cybersecurity and some even a zero budget. Most of the financial institutions which are deemed to face the highest cyber threats lack proper cybersecurity practices. A study done in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia revealed that most financial institutions faced hacking threats due to a poor sense of security.
Africa also suffers the problem of lack of skills amongst most people who use the internet. Most of them are inexperienced and not tech-savvy. Some of them are not conversant with the English Language which is the language that is widely used in the tech world especially in the software instructions. Cybersecurity manpower also lacks in the continent whereas, in 2020, there was a shortage of about 100,000 cybersecurity personnel.  The African countries also face economic and institutional barriers that are required to develop cybersecurity manpower. A good example is Cameroon which noted in 2016 that it was facing a problem of launching cybersecurity skill development programs. There have been fears that once the youth get the required skills to form the training programs, they in turn then use them to commit cybercrimes. African countries are also notorious for weak regulatory regimes which provide a good breeding ground for cybercrime activities. Law enforcement in most of the African countries does not take serious action against hackers who happen to attack cyber networks.
The African governments despite all the challenges have been attempting to establish mechanisms of dealing with cybercrime through legal means, policy and training (Ezeji, 2014).  Most countries have set up bodies to fight cybercrime. This study under review observes that cybercrimes have increased in the level of sophistication and frequency. It recommends that the way forward is for Africa to learn from the experience of the Western world on how they handle cybercrimes.
Ezeji, C. L. (2014). Combating cyber-related crime in South Africa.
Kshetri, N. (2013). Cybercrime and cybersecurity in the global south. Basingstoke: Palgrave        Macmillan.
Lusthaus, J. (2018). The industry of anonymity: Inside the business of cybercrime.
Mendina, T., & Britz, J. J. (2014). Information ethics in the electronic age: Current issues in        Africa and the world. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co.
Omidiji, T. (2015). The future challenges of cybersecurity.
Symantec Corporation. (2014). SAM: Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh. Cupertino, CA: Symantec Corp.
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