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Better Cyber Security Urged in West Africa

Computer hackers cost the world economy trillions of dollars each year.
This is Part Five of a five-part series on Modernizing African Banking
Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Internet banking is reported to be gaining increasing acceptance along the West Coast of Africa because of the benefits that it offers, but there are emerging security issues.

E-Crime consultant Albert Antwi-Bosiako says it is important that cybercrimes --known in Nigeria as 419 and in Ghana as Sakawa - are not allowed to disrupt developments in the sector.

The two crimes defraud innocent victims of various sums of monies in electronic commerce and take more than 500 million dollars out of the world economy annually.

Antwi-Bosiako says the phenomenon is seriously harming economies of West African states.

“There are merchants in Europe, retailers' online and e-commerce platforms, that are not accepting credit card payments from Ghana and Nigeria,” he said. “Retailers will change their policies only when they see improvements from West Africa.”

Antwi-Bosiako says the solution rests with governments in the sub-region. They need to adopt measures to promote a sound digital environment for businesses to thrive.

These may include cyber security policing, law enforcement, and other policies to help address such issues. He says Ghana is already taking action.

“My organization has entered into a collaborative partnership with the CID because we need to train detectives to assist in policing,” he said. “We interact with key government players in the sector, making our expertise available in policy [formulation]. And we’ve also been assisting in developing cyber security courses.”

Unfortunately, not all governments in the sub-region have the necessary work force to deal with complex cyber issues. Antwi-Bosiako says that is the more reason why West African governments need to be proactive.

“People here tend to act only when problems have occurred,” he said. “It’s a big cultural setback. At the organizational level and government level, we tend not to give much importance to these things unless we are personally affected.”
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