The Minister of Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse is expected to present to Parliament a bill that will supplement the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act and Electronic Records (Evidence) Act in the coming Parliamentary sitting.
After the regulations are cleared by all stakeholders and the Minister, some of the much awaited changes will be Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority’s (BOCRA) role in accrediting secure electronic signatures for local companies seeking such service.
Speaking at a seminar hosted by BOCRA to discuss regulations that will be used to provide for the facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions, to provide specifically for electronic commerce and electronic signatures and for the matters incidental and connected thereof itself will be expected to take Jackie Scerri - a consultant from Equinox Advisory in Malta, Europe who have been engaged by government to provide consultancy services on how to better craft and implement the act and the checklist thereof - explained that though mandatory secure electronic signatures would work to the advantage of businesses as they could be some form of a marketing strategy.
Though she explained that businesses doing business and offering their services online were free to use electronic signatures without being accredited by BOCRA, If they had to claim, the signature was secure they had be recognised as secure in terms of the newly enacted act, and the act clearly stated that for the signature to be termed as such “it must be accredited with BOCRA” she said.
The accreditation, which is expected to take at least three months to be issued will see a certification service provider who issues certificates or provides other services related to electronic signatures formally notifying the BOCRA prior to commencing operations in or from Botswana, if the service provider is found to be offering a certification in breach of regulation 3 (1) after the 1st October 2015, they shall be liable to a fine.
The authority shall only award accreditation of a secure electronic signature where it is satisfied that the electronic signature conforms with the requirement of section 25 of the act and is capable of identifying the signatory, that it was created by a qualifying signature –creation device which satisfies the requirements listed in schedule 2, tha is based on a qualifying certificate which satisfies the requirements, that the certification service provider and its personnel satisfies the requirements stated.
One has to of course follow a certain process when applying for accreditation of secure electronic signatures from BOCRA, and will be expected to pay a fee. The regulations are expected to be put in use by the 31st of March this year.
According to the chief negotiator of the committee that is dealing with the draft bill, Phazha Butale, the law is going to be a game changer, as it will move away from the conventional way of doing business. He said organisations such as the Botswana Unified Revenue Services will benefit highly from its implementation.