Internet crime has become one of the most threatening forms of atrocities globally. Africa has been largely affected as the rate of this organized crimes increases by the day. Consequently, the economy of the continent at large has been greatly crippled. With this in play, the levels of poverty continue to optimize and the hope of a better and developed Africa is barely visible.
Much as the global family has tried in all ways possible to fight against cybercrime, Africa still lags behind and it seems like the African states are not really taking this matter into serious consideration as is expected of them. International legislations which criminalize cybercrime have so far been enacted and are to be absorbed in individual state laws. Recently the African Union came up with a convention that upholds cybersecurity but it is quite unfortunate that up to now no African country has ratified the convention. Only five counties in the continent (Cameroon, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, and Zambia) have provisions in their municipal laws that guard cybersecurity.
The blockchain technology could not come at a better time. This software promises an incredible future for the African financial system. With it comes an unimaginable and a never ending solution to all the enigma that stood between Africa and financial freedom; financial success.
For the layman, blockchain is a public ledger of all bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. It is the technology behind the production of bitcoins. There is a whole load of algebra, arithmetic and logarithm attached but hey, story for another day right? For now let’s explore the possibilities of a safe and secure financial transaction that comes with the blockchain technology and thus curbs for the high rate of internet crime in Africa.
The nature of blockchain allows for public access to the bitcoin transactions being conducted and thus transparency and accountability are definitely paramount. Further once a transaction goes through the details of the individual(s) carrying out the exchange are permanently recorded on the ledger which is the blockchain. In case of any online crimes, it is easier to trace the perpetrators of the crime as long as the security forces involved can acquire the bitcoin address used. It usually has all the details of the individual listed on it.
Once data has been recorded on the bitcoin system it is permanently retained. The system’s data retention capabilities ensure faster retrieval of the data when the need arises. This is quite fascinating especially when compared to the other forums which lead to cybercrimes and child exploitations whereby getting back to the original sender of a particular illegal material is usually quite a task and sometimes even impossible . Most of these cases take a long duration before they are solved and sometimes, they are usually dismissed due to the lack of evidence (data). Blockchain has made it possible to track any illegalities in the bitcoin exchange system regardless of how far back it was committed.
When an internet crime has taken place, the police or investigators have to go through a procedure that involves acquiring search warrants in order to be able to access information that is otherwise considered private and not open to the public. Honestly this procedure is quite long and a lot of time is wasted looking for such things. The blockchain being a public ledger is accessible to all and sundry and therefore no time is wasted in acquiring needed or helpful information that would be useful in the development of a particular case. As it goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
One character that is unique to blockchain is that it is borderless. If a crime that has been committed involves two countries, and the need to acquire evidence from a different jurisdiction arises, there are no restrictions that are imposed when it comes to the bitcoin transactions and the evidence thereof. The norm usually is, if the case is between two different legal regimes, due procedure has to be followed with the respective states having to adapt to the legal provisions of the other. This process can prove to be cumbersome at times but ‘voila!’ With Blockchain technology you do not have to worry about that. You do not need a search warrant and it is available anywhere. Convenient, right? I thought so too.
Africa has been on the limelight for various crimes such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, sexual assault, car hijackings and kidnappings. However over time there has been an increase in the financial crimes in the continent. In 2005 PriceWaterHouseCoopers reported a 110% increase in fraud reports from South African companies. 83% of South African Companies reported being affected by white collar crime in 2005 and 72% of South African companies reported being affected in 2007. Statistics don’t lie and as it is this white collar crimes are mainly conducted through the internet. The African states should be more receptive about the idea of cybersecurity and leaders (Presidents and kings) should ensure that their individual states have incorporated rules and regulations that guard the Internet in their municipal laws. Strict punitive measures should also be put in place for the perpetrators of Cybercrime. It is about time that we the people of Africa embraced change. And change is right here with us, just waiting for our action.