Interpol Fire in Namisindwa: Are We Ignoring the Digital Age?

Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Busiinge Aggrey. PHOTO/COURTESY
Busiinge Aggrey
5 Min Read

The International Police (Interpol) offices at the Uganda-Kenya border in Lwakhakha town council, Namisindwa district, were engulfed in flames, reducing critical documents and files to ashes on Tuesday afternoon. As we ponder this incident, one question looms large: Why can’t we securely store such crucial information in the digital age, where computers and servers abound?

Residents, realizing the gravity of the situation, rushed to the scene with jerry cans filled with water, bravely battling the inferno that had already devoured vital records. It’s a testament to the local community’s resilience and determination that they managed to quell the flames before the fire tender truck from Mbale town arrived, which took over three agonizing hours.

Preliminary investigations point to an electric short circuit as the possible cause of the fire, but further inquiries are underway to determine the exact origin of this devastating incident. However, let’s not miss the forest for the trees here; the real issue lies in our continued reliance on physical documents in an era where digital solutions offer unprecedented security and accessibility.

The question that must be asked is why Interpol, an organization tasked with international law enforcement and global security, did not have a robust digital backup system in place. In an age where individuals store their most sensitive information on personal computers, mobile devices, and remote servers, the absence of a secure digital archive for an international policing agency is baffling, to say the least.

Our world has become increasingly interconnected, and information is the lifeblood of any modern organization, especially one as influential as Interpol. The notion that critical data was vulnerable to such a disaster is not only alarming but raises doubts about the competence and preparedness of institutions tasked with global security.

In an era of cloud storage, encrypted databases, and cutting-edge cybersecurity measures, it’s high time that organizations like Interpol embrace the digital revolution. The benefits are manifold: rapid data retrieval, secure backups, and the ability to access critical information from anywhere in the world at any time.

Skeptics might argue that digital systems are not foolproof and can be vulnerable to hacking or data breaches. While this concern is valid, the digital landscape offers robust solutions to these problems through advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring. These technologies far surpass the security provided by traditional paper-based archives.

Moreover, the environmental impact of paper-based record-keeping cannot be overlooked. The Interpol fire is a stark reminder of the environmental consequences of relying on physical documents. The resources, energy, and raw materials that go into producing and storing paper are not only costly but also environmentally unsustainable.

The Interpol fire serves as a wake-up call for all organizations, not just in the realm of law enforcement but across various sectors. The digital age is here to stay, and with it comes the imperative to adapt and safeguard vital information against unforeseen disasters. It is time for institutions like Interpol to invest in robust digital infrastructure, ensuring the protection and accessibility of critical data.

The Interpol fire tragedy underscores the urgent need for organizations worldwide to embrace the technological advancements of our time. We cannot afford to be complacent and rely solely on physical records in a world where digital solutions offer enhanced security, accessibility, and sustainability. Let us use this incident as a catalyst for change and prioritize the adoption of digital systems that will safeguard our collective knowledge and security for generations to come.

Busiinge Aggrey, a Ugandan journalist, analyst, and founder of The Black Examiner, Uganda’s pioneering reader-funded opinion newspaper ( I provide insightful analysis on crucial global issues through my work with The Black Examiner. E-mail:

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