Six African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt are investing heavily in the latest surveillance technology to spy on business competitors, journalists, and other governments, a new report said on Friday.
The report by the Institute of Development Studies puts Nigeria as the continent's biggest spender. The west African nation invested more than $127 million in surveillance-related activities and equipment in 2017 alone.
Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa have also made significant investments on surveillance technology, the report says.
National security and economic interests are cited as the most frequent justifications used by the governments to stretch their surveillance power, often in breach of the rights to privacy of private citizens and civil society organisations.
The report identifies Egypt and Sudan as the countries where citizens’ rights to privacy were least protected.
“This is due to a combination of weak legal protections, weak civil society to hold the state to account and increased state or government investment in surveillance technologies,” the report says.
In contrast, despite the government in South Africa also violating privacy law, the country’s strong civil society, independent court and media successfully forced the government to improve its surveillance law and practices, the report said.