Cybercrime threatens developing economies

SHARE   |   Monday, 23 May 2016   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
Dr Motshegwa Dr Motshegwa

The first International Conference on the Internet, Cyber Security and Information Systems, held in Gaborone on Wednesday has been hailed as a success. The conference which was held by University of Botswana in Collaboration with the University of Johannesburg was focused on challenges presented by cybercrime. The conference came at a time when Botswana is pushing forward to formulate cybercrime strategy in the wake of the technological evolution. In an interview with this publication Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa form the UB Computer Science Department said the conference went very well according to how they planned. Over a period of three days delegates from different African regions and Europe converged to exchange ideas on issues pertaining to cyber security. The issue of cybercrime is currently on the rise not only in Botswana but around the world hence the idea to hold the conference.

Dr Motshegwa said they have learnt a lot for the conference and believe the deliberations will go a long way in helping the government of Botswana to put together a strong strategy on Cyber Crime. The Ministry of Transport and communication is currently heading the formulation of this strategy and Motshegwa said recommendations will be made to the ministry for consideration. Speaking at the opening of the conference on Wednesday Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communication Neil Fitt commended the organisers of the conference saying it will be of great help to developing African countries that are still behind in internet development Botswana included.

Fitt said the government of Botswana is doing all it can in terms of internet development and advancements. He said government is working hard to allow internet connectivity across the nation. Fitt said fibre optic interconnections are all over the country to allow this connectivity. He, however, said with this opening of the cyber space it allows for intrusion which needs to be curbed by making it safe for users. “We are trying to make cyberspace safe for everyone and stop all illegal activities on the internet,” said Fitt. He pointed out that cyber space is not only restricted to one country hence the need to work together to address problem emanating from such. According to Fitt, the conference will help Botswana in her ICT ambitions since the country is currently coming up with the cyber security strategy.

Talking to Botswana’s ICT legal frameworks the Director of Public Prosecution Advocate Abraham Keetshabe said with the increasing usage of ICT there is need for legal and regulatory frameworks. Keetshabe admitted that the country has been slow in this regard but is happy that there are results coming out of late. Keetshabe said the country has moved forward with the National ICT Policy. The policy is a clear roadmap that will drive social, economic, cultural and political transformation in the years ahead through the use of effective ICT. He also pointed out that Botswana has since come up with acts to make sure of personal data protection locally. Some of these acts include the electronic communications and transactions act and the Electronic records (Evidence) Act which have been put enacted and put in use from April 1, 2016.

The cyber conference was not aimed only at helping Botswana but all other African countries with growing internet economies. With technology evolving there is more reliance on the internet to perform day-to-day activities hence the need for countries to come together to tackle whatever problems might arise. According to Dr Motshegwa they have learnt a lot from others whose countries are well established in issues of cyber security. He said from the conference they learnt that capacity building is the most crucial part in the digital world. “It is simple people need to be educated and some be trained for them to understand what goes on the internet,” explained Motshegwa. He further explained that after deliberating fully on the outcomes of the conference a report will be sent to the Ministry of Transport and Communication who are the custodians of the cybercrime strategy. He said the conference needs to be an annual event for the countries to keep sharing their experience on cyber security to make the digital world a safe place.