Rate of cybercrime informs Smart Africa’s cybersecurity Executive Training

Africa is embracing the benefits of digitalization, just like the rest of the world. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the digital industry in Africa is expected to reach a value of US$712billion by 2050.

Similarly, 2022 research by UK-based business intelligence firm Investment Monitor projected the e-economy in Africa growing to US$180billion by 2025. Several African Union actions and commitments to advance the digital economy and digitalize important sectors reflect this awareness.

An essential and cross-cutting part of Africa’s strategy for digital transformation is cybersecurity. Consequently, Smart Africa has worked with its principal partners to create a cybersecurity blueprint for the continent – which has been approved and submitted to the steering committee.

The training’s goal is to equip senior executives from African regulatory bodies with the knowledge and skills necessary to address cybersecurity concerns which prevent the region from reaping the full benefits of a digital economy.

Again, the training aims to equip participants with knowledge and abilities required to comprehend the creation and application of the following key subjects: international and regional cybersecurity laws, norms and regulations.

Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, Director-General-Cyber Security Authority (CSA), explained that the growing digitalisation of our economies poses a risk to future advancement. One of the most notable of them is the increase in cybercrime on a global scale.

As the African economy progresses digitally, the people living here, as well as the information and operational technological infrastructure, are becoming more and more desirable targets for a well-resourced and skilled group of cybercriminals.

“The African Cyberthreat Assessment Report 2023 published by Interpol reports that cybercrime has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. Prominent threats to the continent as outlined in the report are Business Email Compromise (BEC), Phishing, Ransomware attacks, Banking Trojans and Stealers, Cyber Extortion and Crimeware as a service,

“From October 2019 to October 2023, the CSA’s cybercrime/cybersecurity incident reporting points of contact (PoC) received a total of 44,316 contacts – 3,845 representing 9% were categorised as actual cyber-related incidents and 40,471 were categorised as direct advisories,” Dr. Antwi-Boasiako revealed in his welcome remarks.

He clarified that the direct advisory’s purpose is to advise citizens who contact the CSA to verify the information they see online and exercise caution before acting on it.

Over the period, the most frequently reported incident categories were: Online Fraud (45%), which includes among other things job recruitment, shopping, investment and romance scams; Online Blackmail (13%); Unauthorised Access (11%); Information Disclosure (9%); Cyber-Bullying (8%), which was primarily online loan applications; and Online Impersonation (8%).

According to research, 17 African nations have yet to establish national cybersecurity authorities despite 43 having cybersecurity laws in place, according to research on the continent’s cybersecurity landscape.

This suggests that there is a big disconnect between the institutions and enforcement capabilities of current cybersecurity legislation. Therefore, having a network that will assist and include the twenty-five (25) African nations which have not yet established cybersecurity agencies is crucial.

The Chief Strategy and Growth Officer (Smart Africa), Mr. Didier Nkurikiyimfura, expressed his sincere gratitude to stakeholders who made the training possible, saying: “It is my sincere pleasure and distinct honour to welcome you to this High-level Executive Training on Cybersecurity organised under the auspices of Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) in collaboration with Africa Digital Academy (ADA). Let me say to you all ‘Akwaaba’.”

He also took the opportunity to appreciate those who participated in the African Network of Cybersecurity Authorities’ (ANCA) first meeting held last August in Kigali, on the Cyber Tech Africa Conference margins.

Apart from that, one of the recommendations that came from in-depth consultations during the blueprint’s development was the need to establish an independent network of African cybersecurity authorities for better collaboration and coordination on cybersecurity development.

This also influenced the election of Chair countries for the African Network of Cybersecurity Authorities (ANCA), with Ghana emerging as Chair country and Morocco Vice-chair country.