President Paul Kagame has requested East African law enforcement agencies to build strong partnerships and restrain the growing threat of cyber crimes in Africa.
“The rise of the information technology makes it easier to commit offences in a particular jurisdiction without setting foot there,” He said in his opening remarks at the 18th Annual General Assembly of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization.
He said the continent has witnessed the fastest rate of broadband connection on the global level and thus attracting more cyber related crimes and as a result there is a need for collaboration of law enforcement agencies.
“What is important is to cooperate,” President Kagame said adding that “The dangers are real but we cannot afford to have the pace of development and progress to be slowed down as a result.”
According to President Kagame, several crimes including traditional crimes such as drug and human trafficking have been curbed down due to close partnership between law enforcement organisations in the region.
However, with the rising cyber crime levels, communication networks of government and private organizations are always under attack which now calls for stronger counter efforts from law enforcement organizations.
This 18th EAPCCO conference becomes the third to be held in Rwanda including; two others held in 2001 and 2011. This year’s Annual General meeting was held under the theme, “Enhancing cooperation and innovation in combating transnational organized and emerging crimes.”
The organisation with 13 country membership was created in 1998 in Kampala, Uganda in response to the need for joint efforts by regional police in curbing transnational and organised crimes.
The member countries include; Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania.
The Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said, “I want to send my thanks to Rwanda for its strong commitment towards establishment of the cyber crime centre. It is essential that police organisations share resources information to combat these crimes.”
The U$1.5 million Cyber crime centre of Excellence to be hosted by Rwanda and whose foundation stone was laid today by President Kagame is a regional centre in combating cyber crimes through sharing timely information among others.
The outgoing chairman of the organisation, Joseph K Boinnet noted that the organisation has recorded success in combating trans-boundary crimes; “We have registered a number of successes under EAPPCCO mainly in the crimes that transcend boundaries.”
The crimes tackled as Boinnet says include; terrorism, human trafficking, small arms trafficking, cyber crime as well as environment related crimes and Gender based violence related crimes.
Emmanuel Gasana, the inspector general of Police and the incoming chairman of the EAPCCO said that the organisation provides a linkage and partnership and promoting cooperation between police organisations in the region and the rest of the world.
“This inevitable cooperation, for example, has in one way or another eased communication and tracking of fugitives, especially those wanted for genocide atrocities, which has been our top priority,” Gasana said.
Alongside the meeting, Rwanda also hosted the 13th ‘Cyber Enabled Crime Table-Top Exercise’ which has been conducted under the theme; “Fighting Cyber-enabled crime through multi-disciplinary, holistic approach to prevention and mitigation.”
The exercise, seeks to improve the skills and knowledge of law enforcement agencies.