Africa’s first and largest group of investigators working cases involving cryptocurrency gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2023 to share their knowledge and learn from U.S. facilitators. Twenty-six members from seven nations of the Africa Cryptocurrency Working Group (ACWG), along with two U.S. International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) attorney advisors and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supervisory Special Agent Travis Wiehn, gathered at United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Headquarters for a three-day event featuring discussions of current cryptocurrency-enabled crime investigations and hands-on training in effective crypto-tracing practices.
This was the first meeting of the ACWG since they participated in ICHIP-sponsored training on tools for tracing and investigating cryptocurrency transactions in November 2022. ACWG members from Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, and Zambia attended to share experiences, lessons learned, and best practices moving forward.
“Although you come from different nations, we know that it takes an international effort to hold cybercriminals accountable. Your efforts in this endeavor are continuing to pay off, and your achievements are receiving recognition outside of Africa,” said Melissa Schumi Jones, who was Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the African Union when the group met. “The United States, through the Department of State and Department of Justice, remains committed to your success. We have made an investment in each of you with our time and our funding,” she added.
The ACWG meeting brought together prosecutors, regulators, investigators, and other stakeholders from countries across Africa to fight the illicit use of digital assets. Participants said the meeting generated ideas, connections, and knowledge on cybersecurity policy that they are ready to implement in their home countries.
There are 12 ICHIP attorney advisors worldwide, including two in Africa. Each advisor is a U.S. federal prosecutor and subject matter expert in cybercrime and/or intellectual property. The ICHIP program is part of the U.S. Transnational High-Tech Crime Global Law Enforcement Network, a global capacity-building network that provides training and technical assistance to foreign law enforcement, prosecutorial, and judicial partners.