A Review of Privacy, Internet Security Threat, and Legislation in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya

A Review of Privacy, Internet Security Threat, and Legislation in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya

Bellarmine Ezumah, Suraj Olunifesi Adekunle
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0161-1.ch005
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This chapter serves as a collection of works that were done in the area of cybersecurity in Africa—with a focus on four countries representing the cardinal points in Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa. It presents detailed information on the legislative framework proposed and implemented by these countries to combat and control cybercrimes. Notable among them are the Egypt’s e-Signature Law 15, Kenya’s e-Transaction Bill, Nigeria’s Computer Security and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Bill, and South Africa’s Electronic Communications and Transaction Act. Equally, these legislative measures were commended, criticized, and factors that militate their implementation are discussed. The ultimate realization is that cybercrime can never be abolished; rather, every effort aims at combating and controlling it in some way. Finally, the chapter posits areas that the African nations can improve in their quest for making cyberspace safer.
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Arguably, the 21st century is characterized by an unprecedented deluge of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) which are interconnecting the world instantaneously and defying the inhibition of time and geographical space. These ICTs especially with Internet component are providing opportunities for information creation, sharing, pilfering, and consumption that transcend earlier innovations. Africa has seen a phenomenal growth in Internet connectivity in recent years. With the increasing availability of broadband connections and the decrease in subscription fees, the number of new online users in Africa is on the increase. But, with this proliferation of ICTs, comes the byproduct of internet scam, cybersecurity, and their like. Cybercrime, whether occurring in, or originating from Africa or elsewhere is a global problem because its effect reverberates worldwide. As Chawki (2009) observed, Nigerian 419 scam is a major concern for the global community. The Symantec Internet Threat First Quarter Report of 2010 ranks Nigeria as 70th on the Global Internet crime watch and 43rd in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Countries. Nigeria is first in Africa, followed by Ghana and South Africa. According to 2007 Internet Crime Report prepared by the National White Collar Crime Centre and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Nigeria currently ranks third in the world with 5.7% of perpetrators of cybercrime (2007 Internet Crime Report) after United Kingdom and The United States of America. A 2004 estimate suggests that annual losses due to activities of cybercrime in South Africa are in the region of R100 million (approximately $ 16.5 million USD). However, as rightly noted by Olowu (2009), South Africa is equally home to all forms of cybercrime activities. According to Olowu, South African Police estimated that their country is home to more than 190 criminal organizations, many of which are even more sophisticated with international dimension that is far wider in scope than their Nigerian counterparts. In South Africa, spam alone is reported to cost business “between R7 billion and R13 billion yearly in lost productivity” (Tladi, 2008, p. 183). Equally disturbing is the fact that Egypt according to Ojedokun (2005) is also reputed to be one of the most phished countries in the world with about 2000 phishing incidents.

Social network sites are conduits for cyber criminal activities in Africa. Africa is home to numerous social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace for communications, friendships, blogging and other activities which provides ample opportunities for hackers and cyber criminals to carry out their nefarious activities of redirecting internet users to phishing websites consequently making it possible for them to steal user’s passwords, accounts and opening security holes in the victim's machine. Thus, it became easier for them to carry out identity theft and malicious activities against home users and employees in both private and public sectors since local social networks in Africa are not secured enough to protect users' or members' privacy and sensitive information. As rightly noted by Dejo (2009), the risk is very high not only in social networks but also in peer-to-peer networks, Web 2.0, chatting and popular applications that can be exploited.

This chapter serves numerous purposes; first, it is a collection of selected works in the area of cybercrime and cyber security in Africa with a concentration in Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Kenya. Second, it defines cyber crime, tabulates efforts and initiatives that were established in and for Africa and by Africans for the purposes of combating cybercrimes. Third, the chapter lists factors that challenge legislative efforts and addresses the nature of cybercrimes that are inherent in Africa. Fourth and finally, it posits ways that the cyber highway can be made safer for people in Africa and beyond.

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