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Inside Africa’s increasingly lucrative surveillance market

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Cyber surveillance: a new market, with old clients

By Mathieu Olivier
Posted on Monday, 3 February 2020 10:30, updated on Wednesday, 21 July 2021 22:30

The cybersecurity market was worth $118.78bn in 2018. By 2024, this figure is expected to hit $267.73bn. © Rafael Ricoy for GJA

Dozens of journalists, human rights activists and business leaders were tapped via Israeli software by Moroccan, Saudi, Togolese and Rwandan intelligence services. The revelations of the investigation by a consortium of 17 international media exploded on Sunday 18 July. The company NSO, which designed the Pegasus spyware and distributes it, denied the allegations that which it described as "false".

Update 20 July 2021

The Moroccan authorities, for their part, have referred to the revelations as ‘unfounded allegations’, and the French government is concerned about ‘extremely shocking facts and, if true, extremely serious’.

This ‘Pegasusgate’ echoes an investigation we conducted last year in 2020: ‘Cyber surveillance: a new market, with old clients?’ In light of the new revelations made by the NSO/Pegasus scandal, we are republishing this series of articles. 

Also in this in Depth:

Surveillance: the ultra-secure phones of Africa’s presidents

Well aware of the surveillance capabilities of major companies in the sector, Africa’s heads of state try to make their phones as secure as Fort Knox. Every leader is geared up and takes extra precautions to prevent the ever-looming risk of being tapped. We take a look at the phones used by Africa’s presidents and politicians’ practices.

Cameroon: Israel looks after Paul Biya’s security with elite forces

From communication interception technology to physical security, Cameroon’s state security market is entirely in the hands of Israelis.

Cybercrime: West African banks are under-protected

According to analysts from the Morocco-based firm Dataprotect, sub-Saharan African banks are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks (bank card fraud, phishing, intrusions, etc.), mainly due to a lack of qualified technicians and investment in cybersecurity.