Furthering Internet growth in Sub-Saharan African countries is central to the region’s economic development. Yet increases in connectivity are generally accompanied by an increase in cybercrime. With more widespread, faster and cheaper Internet connectivity, cybercriminals have greater opportunities to engage in online crime. For instance, fraudsters engaged in Nigerian-type scams or romance fraud can reach more potential victims around the world. In addition, many computers in the region are not patched regularly and do not have antivirus protection installed, forming a mass of unprotected or underprotected machines that cybercriminals can easily herd together into botnets. The reliance on mobile phones to access the Internet in the region also makes it a particularly attractive target for cybercriminals since mobile devices tend not to have firewalls, antivirus, encryption and other defensive mechanisms.

Cybercrime impacts all countries around the world, irrespective of their level of development, so addressing the dual challenges of Internet infrastructure development and cybercrime is an urgent priority. Using Ghana — already one of the top 10 sources of cybercrime in the world — as a case study, this paper explores how best to promote Internet development in the country while keeping cybercrime levels in check. It proposes policy makers consider an overarching strategy that concentrates efforts on tackling poverty, corruption and other root causes common to these problems, bringing all stakeholders together to discuss solutions with a holistic approach.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance was established in January 2014 to articulate and advance a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance. The two-year project conducts and supports independent research on Internet-related dimensions of global public policy, culminating in an official commission report that will articulate concrete policy recommendations for the future of Internet governance.