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On behalf of the European Union, I am delighted to address you at today's official launch of the Cyber Resilience for Development Project. I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the Botswana authorities and Cyber4Dev for organising this event and also extend this gratitude to the all the partners in the fight against cyber threats.
Cyberspace provides the underlying platform for development, spreading out transformative digital technologies, with profound global implications and many human, economic and social benefits. In recognition of the importance of cyberspace and cyber technology for global development, the European Commission developed, in 2017, the Digital4Development Staff Working Document. This document explores the significant influence digitalization can have towards increased productivity, sustainable growth, job creation and the empowerment of women.
However, cyberspace also bring with it new challenges: the number of cyber-attacks is growing exponentially as we become more and more reliant upon the online world. By 2020 it is estimated that the number of devices connected to the internet will reach 50 billion – all vulnerable to potential intrusion and manipulation.
Businesses, banks, utility services, critical national infrastructure, and government agencies, they all rely on IT systems to provide a flow of information that enables fast delivery of services across national and international territories. But these, and even our personal social media systems and phone apps, leave us more exposed to all forms of cyber-attacks.
In this context, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the EU Consensus on Development focuses on People and Peace. The new EU focus on Digital4Development also highlights how cybersecurity can be an enabler for development whilst also noting the risks posed by cyber "insecurity".
The importance of cybersecurity for development is clearly stated in the EU's Cybersecurity Strategy of 2013 and its 2017 revision which highlights that external cyber capacity building is a strategic building block of the EU's cyber policy. This was also brought forward as a key ingredient in the 2015 European Agenda on Security.
The EU's cyber development policy also helps us create operational cooperation frameworks between partner countries and the EU (ensuring an internal-external security nexus), which ultimately should lead to an improved global cyber ecosystem with positive results for all of us.
And finally, working on cyberspace policy allows us to cooperate with partner countries in a way that translates into policy influence. This is crucial in the context of the global polarisation on cyber issues, including the promotion of principles of an open, free and secure cyberspace in full compliance with human rights protection and the rule of law.
In this respect, let me mention the so-called East Stratcom Task Force that was set up by the European Union in 2015 to counter external disinformation, or what we nowadays call fake news, in, around and from our Eastern European Neighbourhood. It’s been praised by EU Foreign Ministers and international experts alike, as a model to be followed in the fight against fake news. You can follow it on on EUvsDisinfo, on the web, Twitter and Facebook.
Also, in December, the EU adopted an Action Plan on Disinformation, committing to set up a rapid alert system among EU institutions and Member States, to spot and share info on fake news. This will be launched in March, well ahead of the European elections in May.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With the Cyber Resilience for Development Project that we are launching today, we want to increase Botswana's cyber resilience while promoting an inclusive multi-stakeholder and rights-based approach. Through the three implementing partners – the Estonian Information Systems Authority, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the project seeks to deliver value through aligned policy, organisational and technical measures.
The three results that we are targeting are aligned to the specific needs and priorities of Botswana:
Based on the recent drafting of the National Cybersecurity Strategy and the ongoing development of incident response capabilities, it was clear that Botswana was a prime pilot candidate for the EU’s Cyber Resilience for Development Project.
I know I speak for all involved when I express our pleasure that Botswana has chosen to participate in this important project. We feel strongly that the benefits to be delivered will have a direct impact on cyber ecosystem and will ensure that all sectors of the economy – and society as a whole – can gain from a safe and secure online environment.
In conclusion, it is clear that for us to derive maximum benefits from this project, we must all work diligently to ensure a safe and secure cyber environment for all, and we are confident that this project will provide considerable support to the continued development of cybersecurity and cyber resilience capabilities in Botswana.
I thank you for joining us today and I wish all the implementing partners, as well as the Botswana Government, a successful partnership.
Ke a leboga. Pula!