UK funds cyber capacity building in Ghana

Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary

Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary, has announced that the UK is spending almost £3 million to help INTERPOL set up a new team to fight cybercrime in Africa.

The new INTERPOL desk will work across Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda, creating a regional strategy to support joint operations against cybercrime, and strengthen African states’ capability to combat the crime.

These were contained in a press release, copied to the Ghana News Agency after a speech by the Secretary to the CYBERUK conference.

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 Africa.

Speaking to the conference of security experts, the Foreign Secretary said the UK wanted to act as a responsible cyber power as well as working with other countries to shape cyberspace in line with its values.

The UK is also making around £22 million of new investment available to support capacity building in cyber security for developing countries and globally.

“We are working with like-minded partners, to make sure that the international order that governs cyber activity is fit for purpose,” he said.

The Secretary said, “Our aim should be to create a cyberspace that is free, open, peaceful and secure, which benefits all countries and all people”.

“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 systemic attempts to render the internet a lawless space.”

He said humanity was at risk of falling victim to cybercrime at any time, requiring a unified and strong response, adding that, “The UK support for INTERPOL’s cyber initiative in Africa underlines its commitment to this fight and will be an important piece of the global security architecture to combat cybercrime.”

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 cyber criminals.

Mr Raab said in addition to cybercrimes, there was 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.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement across the region, on average only 30% of those crimes could be prosecuted due to differing legal systems and legislation across borders.

The new INTERPOL team will lead efforts to change that, facilitating cross-border collaboration to stop cybercriminals, he stated.