Nigeria’s rising internet penetration rate poses a significant threat to critical sectors of the economy as the level of cybercrime activities may increase tremendously in the coming years, analysts told Business Day.
Though the nation’s internet penetration rate remains low at 28.9 percent according to internetworldstats, Nigeria is still ranked amongst the top ten perpetuators of cybercrime globally.
“The United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) lead the global cybercrime index but that’s understandable considering their high internet penetration rate at 77.3 percent and 82.5 percent respectively. In our case, we have a low penetration rate and still we are most known for cybercrime. This is a worrying situation because growth in the number of internet users in Nigeria would also translate into an explosion of cybercrime activities”, a prominent analyst told Business Day.
Echoing the views of the analyst, Farida Waziri, chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told Business Day in an interview recently that the challenge for Nigeria was how to put in place remedial measures that will ensure that with higher internet connectivity, crime does not necessarily follow suit. “What should be frightening for us is that only about 20 percent of the West African population has access to internet connectivity.
“It may well mean that if we have the level of connectivity of Europe and America, Nigeria will perpetually remain on the top 10 global cyber crime index”, she added. Giving in sight into how the internet access market had fared with regard to the coming of the cables, Mohammed Rudman, managing director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) told Business Day that the internet submarine fibre capacity would increase by a whooping 3, 967 percent by the end of 2011.
This is in light of the arrival of the much anticipated West African Cable System (WACS) being constructed from Europe to Africa – an initiative operated by nine countries (MTN Group inclusive), and expected to berth on the coast of Nigeria by the end of the first quarter of 2011. In the preceding year however, submarine fibre capacity had increased by 1, 683 percent. According to IXPN MD, the low cost of internet access will allow for very high internet penetration in the country.
Industry watchers say that with growing internet penetration, Nigeria appears increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks due to government’s inability to put in place requisite laws necessary to prosecute cybercriminals. According to the analyst, top companies and even banks have also failed to brand themselves as cybersecurity conscious, leaving them exposed to online attacks.
Stakeholders have warned that for the future of Nigeria’s Information Technology (IT) sector to be effectively guaranteed, proper legal and institutional framework to secure computer systems and networks in the country should be put in place. According to them, the fact that cybercrime is not denoted in the constitution as a crime poses challenges and dilemmas for cyber-security in Nigeria.
Business Day gathered that preparation for the April general elections had delayed the passage of the cybercrime bill by the National Assembly. Informed sources told Business Day that the upper legislative chamber would likely pass the bill in the second quarter of 2011. “The structure of fighting cybercrime is the law. The foundation of the law in fighting any crime is the evidence.
“With all the evidence in the world and an Evidence law that does not recognise the existence of a computer; all cases brought to court will be dead on arrival. The bill had gone through second reading but unfortunately with the elections and the consequent constitutional amendment that were required most amendments in the National Assembly took the back burner”, one source told Business Day.
Gbenga Adesanya, a telecom analyst, maintained that Nigeria’s notoriety for cybercrime is already raising fears that the country may face a slow down in foreign direct investment in the telecoms as well as the financial sectors. Another analyst say that cybercrime laws are necessary today because intelligent networks and systems are increasingly been employed to run mission critical services and sensitive processes in a number of sectors that are vital to our national economy.
“Given the nexus between these vital sectors and our national economy, they constitute critical sectors to our national economic and security interests. Thus, computer systems and networks running those sectors constitute critical information infrastructure – because their impairment would have a direct and expansive negative impact on our overall economy and wellbeing”, Basil Udotai, managing partner, Technology Advisor, posited.