Cybersecurity in Africa - 2021

2021 - Cybersecurity in Africa

David Tubananayo

9/24/20217 min read

Cyber Security in Africa .

In terms of population, the economy and world impact, Africa is developing rapidly. Today, the youngest population in the world is Africa, with a median age of just 19.5 years, of 1.21 billion people. This prominence brings young people together in search of productive work, social commitment, free speech and increasing global connectivity. Adoption of technology continues to increase in Africa with the expanded ownership of mobile smart devices, increased usage of social media and a reality of the Internet of Things (IoT). Even the most conservative metrics suggest that Africa is set to make tremendous gains and help fuel global growth into the future.

Policymakers will need to develop strong legislation and awareness programmes to stem the rising tide of cyber risks if Africa is to fulfil its full potential. Unfortunately, these same politicians, technicians, and other specialists have long complained about a lack of thorough and credible threat information in the region. Such data is crucial for analyzing and managing cyber threats because it gives governments a more complete and nuanced picture of how criminals and other actors seek and exploit cyber-related vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity is not a dreary technological story, and we can no longer ignore it. It is, and should be, an essential component of every company’s or government’s growth plan. High-profile data breaches and ransomware attacks were commonplace in the business sector, costing numerous businesses and governments billions of dollars. Cybercriminals are increasingly finding it simple to get into networks and compromise the data of organizations. Organizations usually focus their efforts on improving the technical aspects of cybersecurity while overlooking the non-technical aspects, which include the business processes that shape organizational culture and the people who are the biggest and most important stakeholders in this cyberspace.

Adopting a social science perspective would allow us to better understand and address how attackers psychologically influence individuals, as well as which individuals are most vulnerable to attacks. Africa has to come up and shine a light on these blind spots that, if not addressed, would eventually cripple our systems and put us behind in this ever-changing digital environment. For the time being, let us focus on harnessing local expertise to address the problem, developing stronger local regulations to focus on in-house cleaning, and then considering how to collaborate with other nations and exchange knowledge. However, with increased wealth and technology come new threats and vulnerabilities that may damage development. The growth of cybercrime on a worldwide scale is one of them. Citizens, their computer systems, and the Continent’s information technology (IT) infrastructure become tempting targets for an increasingly skilled army of cyber criminals as the African continent’s economy comes online.

The Economic Impact of cyber security

However, with increased wealth and technology come new threats and vulnerabilities that may damage development. The growth of cybercrime on a worldwide scale is one of them. Citizens, their computer systems, and the Continent’s information technology (IT) infrastructure become tempting targets for an increasingly skilled army of cyber criminals as the African continent’s economy comes online. The rise of cybercrime isn’t only a concern in Africa. In reality, the total worldwide direct cost of cybercrime was projected to be $113 billion USD in 2013. In South Africa alone, 67 percent of people said they had been victims of cybercrime in the previous year, costing the country’s economy $242 million USD. In South Africa, each cybercrime victim pays an average of $274 each year.

Cybersecurity: Challenges for Africa.

Africa is facing with a number of Internet-related challenges, including security risks, intellectual property infringement, and personal data protection. Cybercriminals target people both within and outside of countries, and most African governments lack the technical and financial resources to target and monitor electronic communications considered crucial to national security. These are the problems:

  • Inadequate security measures in place to avoid and manage technical and informational hazards.

  • African nations are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and cyber terrorism due to a lack of technical know-how in cybersecurity and an incapacity to monitor and defend national networks.

  • Inability to create the cybersecurity legislative frameworks required to combat cybercrime. While several nations have suggested laws, the degree of implementation of security measures in both the commercial and governmental sectors to prevent cyber-crime remained low, according to an ECA19 study of 21 countries.

  • Concerns about cyber-security are larger in scope than concerns about national security. Nonetheless, few big important cybersecurity efforts have been launched in Africa. As ICTs are heralded as the panacea to Africa’s many urgent issues, cybersecurity is a significant issue that must be addressed more extensively.

  • There is a need to establish an information society that respects values, rights, and liberties and ensures equitable access to information, while also promoting the creation of real knowledge and fostering confidence and trust in the use of ICTs in Africa.

Policy recommendation

It’s difficult to assess the scope of the problems caused by a lack of appropriate cybersecurity. Cybercrime is a global phenomenon. As a result, controlling it necessitates well-coordinated and targeted approaches. The complexity of the challenges necessitates consideration of all of its elements, including scientific, technological, economic and financial, political, and societal. The interaction between these dimensions adds to the cyber security’s complexity, which is obvious on multiple levels.

Policy, legal and regulatory mechanism

While the continent’s dependence on ICTs grows, individuals, businesses, and countries are becoming increasingly exposed to information system and network threats such as hacking, cyber terrorism, and cybercrime. Few people and institutions are prepared to deal with such attacks. The importance of governments in dealing with this significant problem cannot be overstated. The complete engagement and support of the political leadership at the highest level is required for any cybersecurity programme to succeed. The role of governments in establishing the legislative, legal, and regulatory environment is critical. Among these are the following:

Legal Framework

The absence of cybersecurity laws has a detrimental impact on business. It is also critical that strong anti-spam and cybercrime rules and regulations be put in place to guarantee that all stakeholders have confidence and trust in the usage of the Internet, including conducting online transactions. This could be improved by launching capacity-building initiatives among key policy players and developing a framework for local cybercrime mitigation enforcement.

Coordination and cooperation

Cybersecurity penetrates across all lines. Given the global nature of cybersecurity, addressing vulnerabilities at the national level is challenging. Cooperation at all levels, including between nations and international organizations, as well as between the public and commercial sectors, is required to combat cybersecurity breaches. As a result, a broad framework for international collaboration and outreach must be created. Coordination and collaboration in areas such as computer-assisted fraud, hacking, the dissemination of child abuse pictures, and copyright infringement, as well as standardization in rules and processes, are required to achieve this.

Technological consideration

Development of infrastructure and Services.

  • Dedicated national network infrastructures should connect government, industry, and the research community to promote open knowledge engagement, an open data system for researchers, innovation, end-users’ synergy, and information technology development.

  • A national computer emergency readiness and response team ecosystem is also needed to foster national cybersecurity synergy, knowledge exchange, and intelligence collecting on countermeasures against cybercrime that harms both states and individuals.

  • A dedicated contact centre for reporting cybercrime should be established with the goal of assuring cyber victims that they have a place to go to complain and receive support. The call centre should be manned by properly educated and competent employees, and it should have a website and a toll-free number to allow victims to report a cybercrime with little hassle as part of the overall cybersecurity plan.

  • It is important to encourage the transmission of best practices used by Internet service providers and registrars/registries in their efforts to combat cybercrime and improve capacity for e-commerce and online transaction providers.

Investment on Research

Knowledge and information are powerful tools for empowering countries and communities. In Africa, there is now a general dearth of expertise and information on cybersecurity issues. This chasm must be bridged. To do this, significant resources must be directed on cybersecurity research in Africa, which is currently underdeveloped. Even when study has been conducted, such information is not widely available and accessible. As a result, databanks must be established to serve as platforms for researchers to deposit their findings, which include tools and methodologies for identifying and gathering information on cybercrime. Data deposit laws exist in certain nations. Because these laws are so beneficial, those who do not have them should implement them based on the best practices of countries that have already done so.

The Social Dimension


In Africa, the exponential development in the usage of cyberspace is not being matched by the required capabilities. To address issues of child protection and social security in general, broad-based education initiatives on Internet safety and security are required. Furthermore, ensuring that users have secure access to information and communications technology is critical.

Engagement of all key stakeholder

It is critical to recognize that no single individual or organization has the necessary competence to deal with cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a process rather than an event. As a consequence, it isn’t only a question of passing legislation, nor is it solely the domain of lawyers. Members of Parliament, lawyers, the courts, intelligence/military, civil society, the media, young people, and members of the public should all be involved as early as possible in attempts to address cybersecurity. It is critical to involve all stakeholders in order to obtain the necessary buy-in and ensure that they are aware of the challenges and processes involved.


Africa is on the eve of an internet boom, thanks to a young population that is quick to accept new technologies. Africa must urgently address measures to prevent cybercrime and enhance its cyber security posture in order to keep up. The present cyber threat landscape in Africa reveals that consumers are being impacted by threats that are trending internationally as well as threats that are more regionally specific. Addressing cybercrime and improving cyber security will require a united effort from international governments, industry, and civil society if Africa is to realize its full potential and remain on course to become a major driver of the global economy.