UK TO SPEND £3M ON INTERPOL OFFICE TO FIGHT CYBERCRIME IN NIGERIA, AFRICA
The new INTERPOL desk will work across Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda creating a regional strategy to support joint operations against cybercrime, and strengthen African states’ capability to combat the crime and those behind it.
The fund, according to Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary of the UK, is part of a £22 million new investment to build cybersecurity resilience in developing countries and globally, particularly in Africa and the Indo-Pacific. Raab says the decision to partner with INTERPOL is to ensure that the international order that governs cyber activity is fit for purpose.
“Our aim should be to create a cyberspace that is free, open, peaceful, and secure, which benefits all countries and all people,” Raab said. “We want to see international law respected in cyberspace, just like anywhere else. And we need to show how the rules apply to these changes in technology, the changes in threats, and the systematic attempts to render the internet a lawless space.”
In a statement, the UK stated that it partnered with Nigeria in the past to develop cybersecurity policies and strategies as they share an ambition for a safe and secure digital community that provides opportunities for Nigerian citizens and promotes peaceful engagement in cyberspace that enhances national prosperity.
An example of the collaboration was the launch by President Muhammdu Buhari of the new Nigerian National Open Security Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021. The program followed well-targeted UK-funded technical assistance through the UK’s Digital Access Programme.
The programme has in the past provided funding for a project delivered by the CyberSafe Foundation to train small, medium scale enterprises (SMEs) across Nigeria on cyber basics. The UK Department of International Trade (UK DIT) has also hosted a virtual event for Nigerian stakeholders interested in cybersecurity for the financial services sector. The event discussed emerging cybersecurity issues for the sector and showcased aspects of the UK’s approach.
“With some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Africa has become a target for opportune cybercriminals. By creating a central coordination desk within INTERPOL that law enforcement across Africa can use, the UK hopes to improve collaboration across borders to advance intelligence sharing, and ultimately stop the perpetrators of cybercrime in Nigeria and across Africa,” Raab said.
Cybercrime is one of the most prolific forms of international crime, with damages set to cost the global economy $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. With some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, coupled with a reputation for weak network security, African countries are currently a big target for opportunistic cybercriminals.
In addition to cybercrimes, there is also a growing trend for higher impact online financial scams in Africa, with an INTERPOL survey revealing that in the two years between 2013 and 2015 criminals in Africa targeted businesses for an average of US$ 2.7 million each time.