Whenever there is a discussion of cyber crimes, the word "Nigeria" will soon be raised. This is the unfortunate reality for the country which has a reputation as the home of many online scammers and other criminals. Yet, Nigeria has been in partnership with Microsoft to combat cyber crime for at least 4 years. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether this partnership has produces significant benefits for the country and its damaging reputation.
AGREEMENTS FROM 2005-2007
In October 2005, Microsoft entered into a contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria to help the country "combat cyber crime". At the time, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was hailed as a landmark partnership between Microsoft and an African nation. According to Microsoft, the agreement was to
"help support the Nigerian government’s efforts to create a safe legal environment for technology development and enforce laws that help attract investment and ensure sustainable economical development."The collaboration was intended to address certain online security issues such as spam, financial scams, malicious programs and counterfeiting. Microsoft was to work directly with the anti-corruption body, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in achieving these goals and the then EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, proclaimed that the agreement would help spur "local software industry growth". According to news reports, Microsoft's assistance quickly led to the shutdown of several suspicious ISPs. The MOU was eventually renewed in 2007.
NEW MICROSOFT AGREEMENT
Despite the 2005 contract, a new agreement was just signed between Nigeria and Microsoft on April 30th, 2009. The EFCC website states that "the new agreement comes with additional benefits that will further strengthen the fight against internet crime and piracy." These new benefits apparently include "an extended scope of the partnership to cover the fight against software piracy across Nigeria and to involve the Advance Fee Coalition" and Microsoft will finance the 1st West Africa Internet Fraud Summit to be hosted by the EFCC in November 2009.
In 2005, Nuhu Ribadu said that the EFCC had confiscated at least $100 million from spammers and other defendants and by the time he was 'temporarily removed' from his position in 2008, the EFCC had retrieved a total $600 million in dubiously acquired funds (including stolen public assets). In spite of this, and the fact that Microsoft has been an anti-cyber crime partner, Nigeria's reputation as a haven for scamers and fraudsters has barely improved.
And now, a new report indicates that Nigeria ranks 3rd on a top 10 list of the world's worst online crime countries. This begs the simple question - Why is Nigeria still ranked that high? Granted, in comparison to the top 2 countries on that list, Nigeria's statistical numbers are very small (USA (66%), UK (10%), Nigeria (7%)), but this suggests that more needs to be done to lessen the activities of cyber criminals and those who support their activities. There remains little information on the specifics of the agreement between Microsoft and Nigeria and also, there is scant information on particular achievements as a result of this partnership which is going on half a decade.
What are the precise benefits Nigeria has gained from partnering with Microsoft and how much do they equate to?
UPDATE: This issue has an added dimension. A review of a post from David Ajao's blog dated January 4th, 2006, indicates that Nigeria's numbers have increased instead of decreased given the collaboration with Microsoft.
Related Articles of Interest:
- Nigeria is Not The Home Of Cyber Crime
- Nigeria's Internet Future
- Number One Regional Telecom Market
- 2009: The Year of African Broadband
- Nigeria Is Home To The World's Largest Cyber Cafe