Occasional Papers | Governance, Technology

Balancing Cyber Security and Internet Freedom In Africa

This paper discusses the current state of cyber security and policies in Africa, with a specific focus on Kenya and South Africa as continental leaders in technology.

Globally, Internet freedoms are on the decline and Africa is no exception. In 2016 at least 10 African states cut off access to the Internet, social media websites or messaging apps. This is happening as governments attempt to curtail the transparency, information-sharing and mobilisation potential of the Internet. At the same time, the rise in cybercrimes and the emergence of cryptocurrencies call for improved regulatory frameworks. Governments, not only in Africa but also worldwide, often seem to be a few steps behind, owing to the rapid development of new technologies. This paper analyses how technological advances could ultimately improve governmental accountability. It concludes by arguing for a middle ground in cyber policies, between the need for Internet freedoms, on the one hand, and policies that protect citizens and companies against crime, on the other.