4 Billion Users

The internet is home to many, a virtual space that allows them to connect with friends, strangers, acquaintances, and even businesses. Because the internet is destined to evolve continuously, there is an urgent need to educate people on the benefits of staying safe online. 

Today is the Safer Internet Day— a globally celebrated landmark event that reminds us of the importance of protecting our data and information online. Safer Internet Day began as a scaled-down initiative connected to the larger EU SafeBorders project in 2004. Now, almost two decades later, Safer Internet Day has evolved into an internationally recognized event celebrated in over 170 countries.

As is the case with most global events, Safer Internet Day drives a new theme each year. It has drawn attention to cyberbullying, internet fraud, social networking, and online identity theft in previous years. This year’s theme, a repeat of last year’s call, is “Together for a better internet.”

According to recent findings, there are over 4.9 billion active internet users. Furthermore, 2021 records about 3.9 social media users worldwide. In other words, there are a lot of people going online every day. Because of the growing number of online users, the need to protect the information we share about ourselves, and businesses, is in high demand. 

Safer Internet Africa

In 2017, Serianu, an IT and business advisory firm based in Kenya, cybercrimes cost African economies an estimated 3.5 billion dollars in losses. Nigeria accounted for $649 million, and Kenya lost over $200 million to cybercrimes. In Botswana, up to 97% of cyber-related incidents went unreported or unresolved in 2018. Many African countries are famed for having slow internet speeds, under-reporting cybercrimes, and turning a blind eye to internet fraud. 

Now, more than ever, our online lives are coming under scrutiny by unfriendly people with nefarious intentions. With more young people discovering social media sites and platforms that encourage creativity and expression, parents and guardians must intentionally safeguard their wards’ online identities. 

What’s next?

African entrepreneurs who run tech-enabled businesses and e-commerce marketplaces must also put updated fraud detection tools on their websites. Companies that offer online payment options must ensure their preferred payment processors are PCI compliant and subject to the appropriate payment auditory and regulator requirements. 

Sub-Saharan Africa is known as a region with the least internet connectivity. Compared with North America (75%) and European markets (68%), only an estimated 24% of people have internet access in the Saharan region of Africa. Additionally, according to GSMA’s Mobile Internet Connectivity 2020 report, mobile internet adoption capped at 26% in Sub-Saharan Africa at the close of 2019. 

Even with low internet adoption rates and insufficient data and network infrastructures, active internet users in Africa must be dogged about taking care of their online health and avoid falling into cyber-crime traps

Koromone Koroye Author

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