Background and Context
In a little over a decade, Africa, with approximately 600 million mobile subscriptions, has become the world’s second most connected continent, next to Asia-Pacific. The digital revolution in Africa has transformed lives, enhancing the way people do business, access and pay for services, and communicate in the region and beyond. As Africa transitions from the margins to the mainstream of the global economy, technology could play an even more significant role. Mckinsey estimates that internet contribution to the region’s GDP could increase from $18bn to $300bn by 2025, and e-commerce sales could reach some $75 bn/year.
Further, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates some 150 million jobs could be created by 2020 in Africa alone through the use of ICT platforms. With this growing prosperity and digitization however comes new risks and vulnerabilities that could undermine progress. Chief among these is the global rise of cybercrime. As the African Continent’s economy moves online, citizens, their computer systems, and the Continent’s information technology (IT) infrastructure become enticing targets for an increasingly professional cadre of cyber criminals. The growth of cybercrime is by no means just an African problem.
With a young population that is rapidly adopting new technologies, Africa is on the verge of an internet boom. To keep pace, Africa needs to urgently address efforts to combat cybercrime and improve its cyber security posture. The current cyber threat landscape in Africa shows that users are being impacted both by threats that are trending globally as well as some that more specific to the region. It will take a concerted effort from international governments, industry, and civil society to fight cybercrime and improve cyber security so that Africa can reach its full potential and stay on track to be a major driver of the global economy.
Cybersecurity challenges for Africa
Africa is facing several Internet-related challenges in relation to security risk, intellectual property infringement and protection of personal data. Cybercriminals target people inside and outside their national boundaries and most African governments have neither the technical, nor the financial capacity to target and monitor electronic exchanges deemed sensitive for national security.
One of the main challenges includes the inability to develop the necessary cybersecurity legal frameworks to fight cybercrime. A survey of 21 countries conducted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) found that while many countries had proposed legislations, the level of deployment of security systems in both the private and the public sectors to combat cybercrime was low.
USAFCG engages the “whole of society” in a process-based approach including government, legal frameworks, defense, civil society, media, the youth and the public at large, delivering knowledge, technological resources for a sustained training, capacity building and readiness to tackle cybersecurity challenges.
 Lions go digital: The internet’s transformative potential in Africa
 Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Trends in Africa; AU and Symantec, November 2016
 Tackling the challenges of cybersecurity in Africa; UN Economic Commission for Africa Policy Brief NTIS/002/2014