- Development follows law enforcement authorities across the continent and Interpol rapidly growing cybercrime in Africa
Cybersmart Botswana Founder, David Moepeng, has been appointed Lead Coordinator of the African Cybersmart Network (ACN), a newly established forum of organisations that promote cybersecurity awareness in the continent.
The network was launched in Nairobi, Kenya last week on the sidelines of the 2023 Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum, an annual three-day multi-stakeholder forum for discussions on digital policy issues in Africa.
The African Cybersmart Network aims to facilitate capacity building and collaboration between cybersecurity awareness promoters in the continent so as to intensify public education on cyber threats.
This comes on the back of rapidly growing cybercrime in Africa as reported by law enforcement authorities in different African countries, including Interpol.
Moepeng is a qualified cyberpsychologist with an MSc in Cyberpsychology from Nottingham Trent University in the UK.
Speaking during the launch of ACN, he stated that the network was formed following a realisation that as Africa increasingly becomes digitalised, Internet users on the continent are becoming exposed to various forms of cyberattacks, particularly cybercrime.
According to Moepeng, who works as a Cybersecurity Awareness Specialist at Cybersmart Botswana, the vulnerability of Africans to cyberattacks is exacerbated by rampant risky online behaviours and practices.
“These behaviours include oversharing of private and personal information on social media platforms, responding to phishing messages and other forms of online scams, use of weak passwords, risky web browsing which usually happens when people visit unsecured websites or click on links from strangers, which often leads to malware attacks and hacking,” he explained.
The African Cybersmart Network has therefore been formed as a forum through which cybersecurity awareness promoters in Africa can be empowered and resourced to increase their efforts and achieve greater impact.
In its 2023 African Cyberthreat Assessment Report, Interpol noted that cybercriminals were having no limit in terms of sharing resources and knowhow, which is in part what allows them to thrive.
The International Criminal Police Organisation advised that by the same token, communities and societies needed to bind themselves closer together via the exchange of information to effectively curb cybercrime.
“In order to reduce the impact of cybercrime and protect communities for a safer world, societies must stay abreast of new trends and develop innovative means of responding to them,” stated the Interpol report.
“Doing this in a timely fashion will discourage possible criminal activity and dissuade potential perpetrators in advance.”
For her part, the East Africa Coordinator of the African Cybersmart Network, Jackline Njagi Lidubwi, said membership to the African Cybersmart Network is open to non-profit organisations in Africa that run programmes and campaigns to educate societies about cyber threats.
She noted that the commonality of cyber threats across African borders requires similar techniques, hence a decision to bring Africa together to counter cyber-attacks as one.
Lidubwi added that member organisations will benefit from regular training programmes meant to ensure that public education programmes in the continent stay up to-date with the ever evolving trends in cyber threats.