Improve financial sector cybersecurity, IMF tells FG

The Nigerian government has been tasked by the International Monetary Fund with creating a “robust and adequate” structure to combat cybercrime in the financial industry.

During a virtual media conference on the release of Nigeria’s Article IV Consultation staff report on Thursday, Christian Ebeke, the IMF’s resident representative for Nigeria, addressed questions about the new cybercrime levy and stated that cybersecurity is a crucial problem.

Ebeke said it is something that needs to be taken very seriously because of the potential financial instability repercussions of cybersecurity issues.

“For context, Africa is said to be losing $4bn to cybercrime annually, with a projection that the cost could surge to $12tn by next year.

“This is an issue that we take very seriously at the IMF and in fact, our global financial stability report in April highlighted the importance of designing adequate frameworks and adequate regulation to tackle cybersecurity,” he said.

“In the case of Nigeria, I understand that the House of Representatives voted a motion to pause the implementation of this cybersecurity levy that was part of the Cybercrime Act that was just adopted lately.

“So, we have not discussed this particular issue with the authorities, but as I mentioned, it’s very serious and we encourage the authorities to work towards having an adequate framework around cybersecurity and more generally designing something robust and sufficiently efficient to tackle this very important issue for the financial sector,” he added.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had, on May 6, directed banks and other financial institutions to implement a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on electronic transfers.

The apex bank said the deductions would go to the national cybersecurity fund which would be administered by the office of the national security adviser.

Labour groups, the Organised Private Sector as well the House of Representatives have raised concerns about this new levy. On May 9, the House ordered the CBN to completely reverse the directive, withdraw the previous circular, and issue a counter-directive on the levy.

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