Harare, Zimbabwe (News of the South)- Cases of cyber crime are costing the world more than US$500 billion according to estimates by researchers.
Cyber crime, which a been identified as the new frontier in global terrorism has been heavily felt in African countries with both of the continent’s economic giants, South Africa and Nigeria, suffering.
“The latter pays a heavy price to the scourge: according to estimates, cybercrime costs the Nigerian economy the sum of US $ 500 million per annum”.
The scale of the crime is made more stark when placed against the GDP’s of Africa’s more powerful economies.
“According to a widely accepted estimate, cybercrime costs the world economy the sum of US $ 500 billion, more than the GDP of South Africa (350.6 billion dollars) and slightly less than that of Nigeria ( 521.8 billion dollars), the continent’s largest economy”.
According to the United Nations, cybercrime covers any illegal behavior directed by means of electronic operations that targets the security of computer systems and the data processed by them.
Locally the Zimbabwean government has been scaling up efforts to fight cyber crime with the coming Cyber Crime law and the creation of the Ministry of Cyber Security Threat Detection and Mitigation, led by former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, intended to deal with this.
However its the numbers and scale that is proving a daunting obstacle to the realisation of the intended goals.
The numbers involved in cyber crime, against the paltry GDP of Zimbabwe don’t augur well for positivity going forward.
|An interconnected world|
|7,345 billion (1)|
Number of Internet users in the world
|3,2 billion (2)|
Number of Internet users in Africa
|330,9 million (3)|
Number of mobile devices in the world
|7 billion (4)|
Internet penetration rate in Europe
Internet penetration rate in Africa
Number of cyberattacks neutralised
|49 million (7)|
Number of active Facebook users per month
|1,65 billion (8)|
Monthly number of Google searches
|100 billion (9)|
Daily number of Tweets
|500 million (10)|
Number of mobile subscribers in Africa
|311 million (11)|
Number of email transactions per day
|215 billion (12)|
A high cost
A research publication by SciDevNet explained that “According to Microsoft’s estimate, in 2014 about on half of all adults connected to the internet were victims of cybercrime. This costs the world economy 500 billion dollars; 20% of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been hit.
“These estimations are confirmed by Merrill Lynch Global Research, who, in a 2015 report, also predict a potential “Cybergeddon” in 2020, when cybercrime could extract up to one-fifth of the value generated by the Internet.
As far as the African continent is concerned, there are fewer available data – this shows the absence of measuring tools and of control of cybercrime.
However, and to serve as an illustration: a study conducted by International Data Group Connect showed that each year, cybercrime cost the South African economy an estimated 573 million dollars. For the Nigerian economy the cost was estimated to be 500 million dollars, and for the Kenyan economy, 36 million dollars.
“Proportionally speaking, for middle income countries this represents enormous sums.
“Another study conducted by Deloitte and dating back to 2011 showed that financial institutions in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia had sustained losses of 245 million dollars, attributable to cyberfraud.”
Lastly, several Zambian commercial banks were defrauded of over 4 million dollars in the first semester of 2013, as a result of a complex cybercrime scheme involving Zambians as well as foreign nationals.
“In francophone Africa, the phenomenon is mostly to be found in the main regional economies. For instance, in 2013 the estimated cost of cybercrime in the Ivory Coast was 26 billion CFA Francs (3.8 million euros). In Senegal the cost was estimated to be 15 billion CFA francs (22 million euros).
At an international forum on cybercrime in 2016 in Dakar, Charles Kouamé, in charge of governance in the Ivorian Authority for the regulation of telecommunications, pointed out that 1.409 complaints had been lodged and acted on by the Ivorian courts last year.
According to him, the global volume of Web based fraud in the country seems to have started to decrease, falling from 5.8 billion CFA francs (8.9 million euros) in 2014 to 4 billion CFA francs (6,1 billion euros) in 2015.
These figures show the size of the problem in a part of the world which is currently experiencing exponential growth, fed by the rise in the prices of raw materials and the boom in the technological sector, to which one could add the rise in the incomes of the middle classes.
Even if they can’t buy the usual computer “kit” (PCs, printers, routers etc) they can now connect to the Internet with smart phones, the prices of these devices having dropped significantly in the last ten years.
“This explains why, in 2013, in Sub-Saharan Africa alone 311 million mobile phone users were counted (a penetration rate of 36 %). The figure should reach 504 million in 2020 (49% penetration rate).
For its part, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that one African out of every five now uses the Internet.
With other richer a bigger nation struggling to realm with cyber from Zimbabwe ha its work cut out for it and needs to step up extensively if anything tangible is to be realised.
Cognisant of the limitations the government faces financially many have reduce the cyber crime agenda to a myopic social media haunting of the general electorate by the paranoid government.
Messages have begun circulating on WhatsApp with warnings about posting critical statements about the Mugabe government. Many if not all of these are hoaxes crafted by an equally paranoid population that is fearful of state security reprisals as the country draws towards the 2018 elections.
The real Cyber crime is however an animal too big for Chinamasa and his new Ministry.
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