Cybercrime in Africa: Changing the narrative for positive use of the internet

Security experts have warned that Cybercrime is a canker that is likely to take Africa by storm in the near future if not tackled properly.

Individuals, businesses and major institutions have fallen victims to cybercrimes.

Cybercrime is the use of a computer or the internet to commit a crime or perform an illegality.  

Ghana lost in excess of 200 million dollars to cybercrime between 2016 and 2018, according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.

Cases have seen sharp rise following covid-19 as most businesses are now transacting online.

Cybercrime is up by 60 percent in Ghana with Perpetrators remain mostly young men between the ages of 17 to 30.

Ghana’s Parliament passed the landmark Cybersecurity Act 2020 which established the Cyber Security Authority.

This is to protect the critical information infrastructure of the country, regulate cybersecurity activities, provides for the protection of children on the internet and develop Ghana’s cybersecurity ecosystem.

However, experts have advocated the need for African countries to build capacities of law enforcement agencies to fight transnational crimes.

According to the criminal investigations department of the Police Service, cyber fraud makes up 45 percent of all cybercrime cases making it the topmost.

However, in terms of the amount lost to criminals, cyber fraud is the second highest after crimes such as intrusion and stealing within the cyberspace.

Nations have invested massively and continue to as a measure to check the canker.

Though the rate of internet usage has increased there is little to no data on its positive use.

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Perhaps the impact of its negativity is intense compared to the positives fueling the negative stereotyping of internet use by the Ghanaian youth and Africans in general.

According to a 2017 data from PEW research Centre, 72% of Ghanaian internet users see economic b3enefits stemming from greater connectivity compared with 54% of non-users.

Oyinda is a member of a network called the Bosch Alumni Network which is a social media network that brings together all the Alumni of projects sponsored by Robert Bunch foundation.

She started using the internet at the age of 12 years when she was still in junior High School.

As a young adult, the use of the internet has exposed her to the world than her geographical location and has given her the step of positivity.

‘‘My colleagues I utilized the internet positively to work during this Covid -19 pandemic. As members of the Bosch Alumni Network, which brings together all Alumni of projects sponsored by the Robert Bunch Foundation, we used the internet connect considering we were all working from Cameron, Zimbabwe Ghana and Nigeria.’’

‘‘You don’t necessarily need to have a physical structure these days to run a company or have a job.’’ She added

Oyinda is not alone. There are many African youth who are making strides using the internet for good.

Mercy Mangwana Mubayiwa tells the story of how she and her team planned the Internet for Good Project in Ghana last year using the internet.

‘‘Initially when we planned the Internet for Good Project it was a physical program. However when COVID hit we had to figure out a way to adjust to the new normal. Given that we had all never met before we relied on emails, slack, zoom and WhatsApp for communication and organizing our digital campaign.

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We were actually able to reach so many people we wouldn’t have been able to reach and connect with physically. It was an opportunity for us to reach out to a number of people beyond our localities.’’ 

She further revealed said ‘‘Covid helped us build a bit of our digital footprint through our media campaign. We held a twitterthon, an Instagram story contest, a webinar and some engagements on our socials and set up a website all on the internet’’.

Many young African brains have created software’s that aid economic growth all over the world.

This means the African youth doesn’t only use the internet for crimes.

This means the narrative must change.

The attorney general alliance Africa has collaborated with Microsoft Africa to tackle cross border crime in support of rule of law in Africa the initiative hopes to help reduce the negative use of the internet for cybercrimes.

Markus green, board member of the attorney general alliance Africa said‘’WE think about organized crimes but just as the criminals are organized, the justice system needs to be organized we must work together, the government, private sector, civil societies, we must all work together in other to combat transnational crimes. That’s the only way we can stay ahead’’

The regional director, engineering, Microsoft Corporation Mark ihimoyan said

‘’We know that the trend from cybercrime is real and it’s constantly evolving in a very dynamic area. The essence for the partnership is to be able to cross pollinate and do a lot of knowledge transfer and capacity building across the continent to really help to strengthen the ability of law enforcers and relevant bodies to go after the cybercrime offenders’’

The partnership also seeks to build capacities of experts with modern technology to fight transnational crimes.                                                                     

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We can only hope that more focus is channeled towards looking at improving the good use of internet by the youths making strides in their various corners.

An article by Sarah Apenkroh, Member, Bosch Alumni Network