African Development Bank's board of directors has awarded a $2 million grant to establish the African Cybersecurity Resource Center (ACRC) for Financial Inclusion to tackle cybercrime across Africa and to strengthen the resilience of digital financial ecosystems.
The grant will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, a blended finance vehicle, which the institution supports.
The project will take a three-pronged approach:
- Creation of an affordable shared platform to monitor cyber-attacks against financial service providers and individual customers;
- Rollout of individualized advisory services to enable organizations to bolster their cybersecurity;
- Enhancement of cybersecurity talent development to ensure that African demand for expertise can be met.
Dakar, Senegal will host the headquarters of ACRC. Sub-regional resource centers will be set up in West and East Africa. Cybercrime cost African countries $3.5 billion in 2017, according to Quartz Africa.
Digital transactions in Africa frequently take place over mobile phones, many of which are insecure. Thus, it is expected that addressing this vulnerability will boost trust in financial technology.
Speaking about this project, Sheila Okiro, the ADFI (Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility) coordinator, said: "The ADFI operational team and our partners are excited about this project as a secure digital financial services ecosystem is crucial for sustainable financial inclusion. We are counting on the ACRC members and operational partners to help lay the foundation to systemically tackle rising cybersecurity concerns and help build a sustainable model for dissemination of these critical services across the continent."
The project will potentially benefit 250 million vulnerable customers and 2,000 to 3,000 financial institutions across Africa. Under its gender component, ACRC will specifically target improved cybersecurity for 20-25 million women in five years, and aim to employ a workforce made up of at least 39 percent women.
ACRC is registered as a company under the ownership of Cyber4Dev, a consortium of two Luxembourg-based entities: Excellium Services and SecurityMadeIn.Lu will oversee governance and strategic decisions for the project. ACRC also has two implementing partners: Suricate Solutions, which will manage the attack-detection platform and lead the incident response team; and the University of Luxembourg, which will coordinate research, development and innovation.
The Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) is a pan-African instrument designed to accelerate digital financial inclusion throughout Africa, with the goal of ensuring that an additional 332 million Africans (60% of them women) have access to the formal financial system. ADFI's partners are the French Development Agency (AFD); the French Treasury's ministry of economy and finance; the government of Luxembourg's ministry of finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank, which also hosts the fund.