Kenya has dropped three places in terms of its support for online shopping in Africa on account of reduced security of the servers, signalling heightened risks of cybercrime.

Kenya has been ranked at position seven on the continent in facilitating online transactions, down from fourth place a year earlier.

In the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-commerce Index 2020, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana and Libya beat Kenya to occupy third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions.

Mauritius and South Africa maintained their first and second positions in Africa, according to the report, which also indicates that Nigeria dropped from third in 2019 to eighth last year.

The report however states that Africa needs to do more to tap e-commerce which has rapidly grown in other regions of the world, especially the developed countries.

“To facilitate more inclusive e‐commerce, African countries would benefit from catching up in all policy areas,” UNCTAD analysts wrote in the report.

“In the case of Internet access, less than a third of the population in Africa uses the Internet compared to three quarters in Western Asia.”

Kenya’s score on secure internet servers, which act a proxy for e-commerce shops such as Jumia and Safaricom’s Masoko, dropped to 46 from 49 in 2019, but better than 37 a year earlier.

A score closer to 100 signals improvement in policies to support online shopping and vice versa.

Experts say Kenya, which has gained a profile as a regional innovation hub, has to redouble its effort to fight cybercrime if it is to play a leading role in online shopping and the growing e-commerce space.

Cyber-attacks on Kenyan organisations rose by nearly 50 percent in the last three months of 2020 compared to a similar period the previous year,  says the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) in a recent report which shows that more than 56 million cyber threats were detected nationwide in comparison to 37.1 million in 2019.

“A majority of the threats were malware attacks at 46 million, followed by web application attacks at 7.8 million while 2.2 million Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) threats were detected during the same period,” the CA said in a statement.

The rise in cyber threats have seen businesses lose billions of shillings and sensitive information to hackers. This has forced firms, especially in the financial sector, to be vigilant.

According to a survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and the CA, Kenya lost about Sh18 billion to cybercrime in 2016.

Nairobi’s UNCTAD score on reliable postal delivery for goods bought dropped to 46 from 47, while internet penetration remained steady at 82 for the third year.

However, the index on share of Kenyans using internet improved to 23 from 18, but the percentage of internet users shopping online thinned to 19 percent from 24 percent in 2019.

The country’s overall score in the 2020 UNCTAD B2C e-commerce index was unchanged at 49, ranking 88 out of 152 countries covered in the annual survey – also unchanged from 2019.

Switzerland leapfrogged the Netherlands to be top the global e-commerce ranking with a score of 95.9 against Amsterdam’s 95.8, with both countries dropping 0.1 and 0.7 points, respectively.

At the height of Covid-19 outbreak in April 2020, the UNCTAD had warned of rising unfair, misleading and abusive business practices, singling out Kenya Nigeria, India, France, Italy and Greece as some of the countries hit with vices such as price gouging