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Cybercrimes Threaten Africa’s Economy | AFRICA | OTR is a lifestyle magazine with a focus on Africa and its people in the diaspora
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Cybercrimes Threaten Africa’s Economy

by Shelby Hawkins on June 1, 2018
BUSINESS

Entire systems of production, management and governance are networked, and networks can be hacked.

The complexity of living in the Fourth Industrial Revolution means being hyper-aware of the possibility of falling victim to a cyberattack.

This current industrial revolution is unlike any other because it affects every aspect of our lives from the public to private sectors – academia to civil society; businesses and large centers are no longer the sole targets for cyberattacks, it is everyday citizens.

The First Industrial Revolution was simply the expansion of water and steam power. The second introduced the world to electric power and the third was the digital revolution. Electronics and technology were used to automate production.

Now in this new and still unfamiliar age, risks of personal information being compromised is on the rise. Worse than that, the risk of cyberattacks in Africa is much higher although much of Africa is technologically disadvantaged compared to the rest of the world.

Africa is at Risk for Cyberattacks

Because there is a higher penetration rate of new technologies, Africa is more at risk for attacks. Also, due to the continent being behind in technological advances, African countries have a low commitment to cybersecurity.

However, risks of compromising information about employees and customers can be significantly decreased with cybersecurity. African businesses can also escape the possibility of damaging their reputation and finances.

Last year showed a record high for the acceleration in cybercrimes. Organizations spent 23 percent more than the previous year to protect against cyberattacks. About $11.7 million dollars was invested towards security in 2017.

Laws

Implementation of laws to protect privacy and avoid grievances due to poor cybersecurity have been adopted.

For example, companies in Morocco must adhere to certain criteria in order to combat attacks and protect infrastructure for the country. Regulations issued by The National Defense Association regards electronic exchanges and national cybersecurity.

Europe has also addressed the issue of inadequate cybersecurity in Africa. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) states that African nations must follow certain rules so that they can maintain commercial relations with Europe.

Companies that do not comply will be penalized. Penalties can result in fines, loss of production and reputation, intellectual theft among other things.

Effects on Business

The loss or theft of data has the ability to halt production completely. In 2017 at least five companies in Kenya were hit by the WannaCry virus – it affected approximately 300,000 users.

In Morocco, The Renault Tanger-Méditerranaé automobile plant had to be shut down for an entire day last year. It consequently resulted in the loss of production of 1000 cars.

Loss of production ultimately results in financial losses.

Why Africa Needs to Make Cybersecurity a Priority

The success to African economies is directly linked to their thriving technology industry. Breaches in security weaken customer trust. Customers will stop going to a provider if they do not trust them.

According to The World Economic Forum’s website, companies are able to win back consumer trust through making a collaborative strategy. It says:

To combat the threat of cybersecurity, it’s been suggested that organizations should share information about their own security threats with their competitors, or alternatively, create collaborative networks where they offer rewards to white-hat hackers, for example.

In my view, collaborative efforts are undoubtedly going to be the most effective way of addressing cybersecurity in the near future. The concept, however, is still in an “incubation” phase as we have not yet seen an effective, central, trusted, implementation of cybersecurity collaboration on a big scale, even if there has been some research and discussion around what this should look like and how it should be managed.

The reality of this new digital age is daunting. Even so, advancements in society is nothing new. Africa can and will adjust to the new era of technology and protect itself from all of its variables.

 

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Shelby Hawkins
My name is Shelby, like the mustang, and I am an avid lover of photography, literature and desserts. I identify as a proud feminist and Pan-Africanist; hopefully that manifests in my writing.
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