British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab

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

In a speech at the CYBERUK conference on May 12, Mr Raab indicated that the new INTERPOL desk will work across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria 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.

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 at the conference of security experts, the Foreign Secretary outlined that the UK wanted to act as a responsible cyber power. As well as working with other countries to shape cyberspace in line with our values, the UK is also making around £22 million of new investment available to support capacity building in cybersecurity for developing countries and globally.

In his speech, Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said: “We are working with like-minded partners, to make sure that the international order that governs cyber activity is fit for purpose.”

“Our aim should be to create 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.”

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “With more than 4.5 billion people online, more than half of humanity is at risk of falling victim to cybercrime at any time, requiring a unified and strong response.

“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 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.

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.