Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo has called on stakeholders to play their part in securing Botswana’s cyber space to complement government efforts towards embracing digitization through smart Botswana.
Speaking during Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) virtual symposium last week, Segokgo said though the shift towards digitalization, digitization and digital transformation promotes transparency, convenience, efficiency and productivity, it is however a double edged sword. “On the flip side there are security challenges associated with this change as criminals are now borderless; high yield, less chance to get caught and have many open sources to carry out their attack,” he warned.
Segokgo said government is aware of the need to provide a safe, resilient and viable cyberspace for citizens, therefore in October the President approved Botswana’s first National Cybersecurity Strategy (NCS) to achieve a secure and resilient cyberspace, to enhance cyber capacity and capability, to promote Cybersecurity awareness, to foster Cybersecurity research and development, to enhance stakeholder collaboration and cooperation on Cybersecurity issues at national, regional and international levels and to harness or leverage cyberspace for socio-economic development.
Following the approval of the strategy, MTC is working on its implementation, Segokgo said. “To ensure a secure and resilient cyberspace, we are reviewing laws, building up structures such as National Computer Incident Response Teams (BWCIRT) and coordinating national efforts on Cybersecurity,” he said, further revealing that such efforts include building capacity and capability as well as promoting cyber security awareness among members of the public.
“A report by African Cyber, shows that while we have about 200 cyber professionals, we will need up to 5000 professionals in the near future. This number keeps growing and there is therefore a need to accelerate capacity building, not in number but also in quality of the individuals produced,” said Segokgo.
He warned that nobody is safe until everybody is safe, explaining that cybersecurity strength lies with members of the public who are well informed about cyber issues and proactively practice cyber safety and share knowledge with one another. According to Segokgo, the approved National Cybersecurity Strategy has identified research and development as one of its core objectives and the ministries responsible for research as well as industry will be embarking on establishing a cyber research Agenda for the country.
Segokgo said to promote a safe cyberspace, government has introduced a number of legislative instruments aimed at fighting cyber crime, among them the Cyber Crime and Computer Related Crime Act of 2018, the Communications Regulatory Authority Act of 2012, the Electronic Communication and Transaction Act of 2018, Electronic Records (evidence) Act of 2014, the National ICT Policy of 2004 and the Data Protection Act of 2018.
Minister of Tertiary Education, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe applauded BIUST for their effort in bringing awareness to issues of cyber security, indicating that Covid 19 has accelerated the adoption of technology at a much faster pace, which brought some challenges.
BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo said as government is on the drive to digitally transform the country and create a smart Botswana, cyber security issues have become more relevant than ever before as lives are now more reliant on a secure cyber space. Prof Totolo said the symposium brought four critical stakeholders together being the government, parastatal sector, private sector and academia to discuss issues at national level and the high number of international participants is an indication that issues of cyber security are not only important to Botswana but rather for the whole world.
For his part BIUST Head of Cyber Security Research group, Dr Oteng Tabona said while the country is busy digitalizing, digitizing and digitally transforming, members of the public should be aware of threats brought by such changes. “Digital technology allows us to innovate, this is an inclusive statement, this means that criminals also have the opportunity to be creative, traditional crimes now apply digital technology to efficiently and effectively carry out their processes,” he warned.