Cyber crime poses a major threat to African economies

Posted on January 30, 2013 08:11 pm

Sometimes back, I set out several months from busy schedule to do research into online criminal activities in the less developed region of Africa. I was interested in uncovering structures and mechanisms that are being used to breed western countries kind of cyber crime in East and Southern African countries. In an increasingly cashless East Africa, brought about by growth of mobile money transfer platforms, electronic crime has become a major trans-regional challenge for law enforcement agencies throughout the East,Central and neighboring Southern Africa states like Zambia and Malawi. Until today, there appears to be no breakthrough on how to contain it effectively especially the thriving mobile crime and not even the registration of SIM cards in countries like Kenya that has one of the best nationals Identity system has managed to tame the criminals. In Tanzania,Rwanda, Uganda as well as Zimbabwe the problem is the same.Electronic thugs operate in all countries in East and Southern African countries and it’s a cause for concern when I see law enforcement agencies believe the biggest threats come from traditional hotspots like Eastern Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia. In sub Saharan Africa, most of cyber criminal activities emanate from Nigeria, the second largest economy in Africa. Advanced electronic thieves engage in credit card and debit card skimming as was widely reported in the Ugandan media about the crooks from Bulgaria. In Uganda, the eastern European country crooks obtained the identity details they required to aide their criminal activities targeted at unsuspecting Ugandan citizens who are said to be among the most hardworking population in Africa together with their neighboring Kenyans.

In South Africa, which is by far the largest economy in Africa, there are a lot of goods that are now being sold online and most of the instructions are made through agents on emails and telephone calls without one on one interactions which has made the situation easy for identity thieves to rob the innocent civilians in the rainbow nation. In Nigerian, the well-established Scammers, normally hack email address to obtain personal details. When they are done with getting the details, I can assure that there will be nothing that can stand in between the fraudsters from committing the crime and acquire ill-gotten wealth. Most of the law enforcement agents I know have conceded to me that they face serious challenges to which they do not have a solution since most of the cyber crooks are too advanced and knowledgeable. In my previous contribution to this gigantic problem, I have said that there is greater need for Inter state cooperation among the police and crime agencies, Governments and businesses around Africa. There is no argument that Internet is the most positive innovation in our generation innovation but it has also become the most dangerous innovation. However, only those who never believe in rule of law and an orderly society have continued to exploit the Internet to their advantage and am happy some have ended up in jail while majority remain scot-free although the long arm of the law will catch up with them soon. Unfortunately, their online criminal activities has impacted negatively on the African economies by deterring investors in the lucrative technology industry and its high time authorities address the crime in totality otherwise it will soon be out of their hands and safely in the gloves of cyber criminals.

Contador Harrison