Thursday, 12 June 2014


The fourth workshop in a global series of workshop on Cybercrime and Cybersecurity which was announced "HERE", hosted by the US Government was held in Gaborone recently. The retreat, dubbed the Sub-Saharan African Cybercrime and Cybersecurity workshop attracted mostly security and law agents from almost all the SADC countries who all resolved to have their governments devote more resources to fighting cybercrimes.

Eric Tamrkin, from The Institute for Security Studies said “Given the report that Africa is becoming cybercrime safe harbour, the problem could hamper economic growth, foreign investment and security. Policy makers need a cogent response to cybercrime which is informed by a clear understanding of emerging threats and how other countries have formed strategies in response; countries on the continent should adopt a multi-layered approach”

According to Dr. Ezekiel Okike from the University of Botswana’s Department of Computer Science, business and government institutions can lose billions of dollars every year to computer criminals. Many computer crimes are probably committed by company insiders and to avoid embarrassment many companies cover up computer crime committed by their own employees like the cashiers, clerks, programmers, managers. The typical computer criminal could be a trusted employee or former employee, he said.

Botswana’s representative at the conference, Advocate Abraham Keetshabe, who is also the General Counsel in the Office of the Presidentsaid theDevelopment of legal and regulatory framework “is at embryonic stage,” work having started in earnest in the year 2010.

“Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act came into force on 28 December 2007. Cybercrime by its nature knows no boundaries and may collapse the economy of any country. The Cybercrime Act, deals with crime perpetrated through computer systems and covers unauthorised access to a computer or computer system, unauthorised interference with data, accessing computer system with intent to commit an offence, and generally deals with cyber fraud. The Act has been identified for review as a priority under phase 1 of the e-legislation programme of the Government of Botswana,” he explained.

Keetshabe added that “Up until as recently as April 2014, no legislative framework to facilitate and enable the provision of e-services existed in Botswana. Laws tended to prohibit, rather than promote the use of ICT to provide services.”
 “For example, the legislation did not provide for recognition of electronic signatures, authenticity of electronic documents and admissibility of electronic evidence, to name a few. These legal challenges are being addressed through the development of simple, consistent and technology-neutral legislation which recognizes all ICT processes and transactions - including recognition of electronic signatures as a valid authentication method for electronic transactions and give confidence to consumers, the business community and Government agencies participating in electronic transactions.”

Detective Chief Inspector Esau Banda of the Zambia Police Service Fraud and Cyber Crimes Unit who formed part of the Zambian delegation commented thus: “The Zambia Police Service and the whole nation is very much alive to the harm that cybercrimes brings to the general populous and thus ought to be tackled with full force just like any other crime if not even much more. Cyber Crime personnel require more training and capacity building exercises.”

ECOWAS participants who were there as a sideshow said, “while encouraging the use of Telecommunication/ICT for development, we are saddled with the problems of cyber security including cybercrime particularly with the development of Internet and the booming of mobile Smartphone and innovative applications Three Acts to secure and encourage use of ICT have been developed with the assistance of ECA.

Supplementary acts on Electronic Transactions and Personal Data Protection were adopted by the Heads of States on 16thFebruary 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria. Supplementary Act A/SA.1/01/10 on Personal Data Protection Within ECOWAS Supplementary Act A/SA.2/01/10 on Electronic Transactions Within ECOWAS Directive on Fighting against Cybercrime adopted by the Council of Ministers on 19thAugust 2011 in Abuja Directive C/DIR. 1/08/11 on Fighting Cyber Crime Within ECOWAS

According to ECOWAS, the SA recognizes the existence of electronic transactions in the ECOWAS space and defines the rules to regulate these activities, notably the obligations and responsibilities of actors, as well as measures to secure electronic transactions. The SA on personal data protection aims to fill the legal gap relating to personal data protection within the Community.

“It is also aimed at establishing in each ECOWAS Member State, a mechanism against privacy through personal data collection, processing, transmission, storage and use The Directive on fighting against cybercrime is aimed at bridging the legal gap relating to cybercrime repression through the adoption of new offences specific to ICT. It also aims at adapting traditional offences to ICT offences, sanctions and the punishment regime in force in Member States to the new technological environment.”

As in many African countries, there was no specific legislation on Cybercrime in Tanzania. However, there is progress and some measure of commitment by the government, while Mozambique was said to be employing an 1888 legislation to prosecute cybercrime offenders.

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