Africa looks to collaboration to tackle cybercrime


If one considers the level of legislation and new provisions being made in cyber laws in Africa, there is an emphasis on cross-border collaboration between states to help combat cyber threats.

In an overview of legislation and proposed changes to cyber security laws at the annual ITWeb Security Summit in Johannesburg, Sizwe Snail, attorney at Snail Attorney's, explained that from an Africa point of view, there is a host of legislation that has been drafted and introduced including:

EA1 and 2 from East Africa, model law transposed from South Africa's ECT (Electronic Communications and Transactions) Act from the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, as well as African Union's Cybersecurity Convention.

He said the cybersecurity and cybercrime landscape in Africa is moving towards harmonisation in legislation. "In other words if there is a cybercrime for example in Nigeria, it should be a cybercrime in Kenya," said Snail.

"There is also an emphasis in cross-border assistance in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime," he continued.

Legal experts have criticised corporate South Africa for its paper-thin approach to cyber security and adopting what they consider to be a reactive rather than proactive stance.

ENS Africa attorney Dave Loxton said the country faces several challenges when it comes to protection against threats, including gaps in legislation, lack of training and education, and ineffective law enforcement.

McAfee has reported that in 2014 cybercrime cost South Africa R5.8 billion plus per annum "Cybercrime is not seen as a crisis... but it is," said Loxton, adding that cybercrime has evolved from being something people did simply for 'fun', to something that is syndicated and motivated by money, revenge, trade secrets, and espionage.

He added that while the country had implemented initiatives like POPI and ECT laws, there was a lack of urgency in following through on these initiatives. "Cybercrime is a major headache and it is up to each one of us to do something to address the issue."