The government of Ivory Coast has decried the increasing number of complaints about cybercrime in the country, saying it received more in the first quarter of last year than anywhere else on the continent.
The BBC reports this makes the country Africa’s unlikely capital of “brouteurs” – Ivorian slang for cybercriminals.
According to Stephane Konan, coordinator of the country’s intelligence services, no other African nation had as many complaints as Ivory Coast.
“When we exchange with our colleagues from other countries, none of them report as many complaints as us,” he told the BBC.
“It’s less risky to commit a crime with a computer than to do the classical crime that we were seeing in Abidjan in the 1990s and 2000s, with lots of bank robberies by very young people. We don’t see that any more. All the young people have dropped the guns and the cars to commit a cybercrime.”
While the country is quickly becoming infamous for technology crime, he said it is also becoming recognised for how it is dealing with it.
The thriving online community in nation’s capital city of Abidjan is fighting against the activities of an increasing number of brouteurs springing up across the country. Last year, they voted for Abidjan’s first web mayor – 22-year-old Emmanuel Assouan – who is teaching Ivorians legitimate methods such as blogging and web design through which they can make money online. He told the BBC that sensitisation exercises are being organized at cybercafés.
“We try to meet them in the workplaces, generally in the cyber cafes,” he says. “We want to sensitise them to quit the darkness in which they are destroying the image of our country.”
The government has also launched a dedicated taskforce to fight cyber crime, the Plateforme de Lutte Contre la Cybercriminalite (PLCC). Being the first of its kind in Africa, the taskforce is made up of the nation’s law and security forces.