Speech by Ambassador Jan SADEK at the opening of the Cyber security training for journalists (Avani Hotel: 24/11/2020)
On behalf of the European Union, I am delighted to join you today at the start of a two-day training on cyber security for media practitioners.
Last week I had the honour to officiate at the award of prizes following the conclusion of a month long CyberSmartBW Challenge, a campaign meant to foster conversations around Cyber Security and encourage young people to learn about cybersecurity. The project, supported by the EU through the Cyber4Development was a success with quality submissions. I am happy to announce that once again, a bright young lady emerged the winner.
Not the only event. Last few weeks. Internet Governance Forum. Government’s Digitalisation Workshop. EU Ambassadors’ conference – Digitalisation and cybersecurity second on the agenda, after Climate change. The buzz is around the Dual Transition – climate and digitalisation. Mr Masiga and I will have officiated at three events this month. I do not want to overstate our importance, but I think it is telling about EU and Botswana priorities right now. Certain digitalisation cyber security is something we will continue cooperating on.
Crucial to have media onboard, and that you follow carefully and report on what is happening in these areas – this is the future and you will help bring Botswana to the future. No one can deny the fact that media plays a critical role in the development of our societies particularly as it acts as the interface through which societies receive and understand information and knowledge. You also create platforms for meaningful dialogue and conversations. And for democracy.
This morning, I am again happy that, together with BOCRA, Botswana Editor’s Forum, eBotho campaign and Avani Hotels, the EU has come to the party as it is supporting this training. And it is a rich programme indeed, with participants from UNICEF and the University to DISS and the Police…
With this workshop, you, the media, can learn about cybersecurity and report effectively, with knowledge and understanding of the various issues, some of which can otherwise be too technical for ordinary people to understand. And why do we need this understanding of cybersecurity?
Well, the EU, like the Government of Botswana, and probably all of you, recognises the digital sector as one of the fastest evolving economic and social areas worldwide, creating opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth. The benefits of digital innovation reach far and wide, unlocking innovative solutions to complex challenges across a broad range of sectors from health and education to transport, disaster risk management, or agriculture.
Digital technologies now underpin the complex systems, which keep our economies running. Today, almost all businesses in some way rely on the internet and the smooth functioning of information systems to operate more efficiently and grow their markets.
The digital sector has a great potential to improve citizens lives in Botswana and around the globe, but it is also important to realize that there are risks associated to the digital transformation that we need to prevent and fight.
In a world with over 50 billion devices connected to the internet, cyber-attacks are a growing phenomenon that can disrupt not only businesses or our personal systems but also the supply of essential services that we take for granted such as water or electricity, even a surgery at a hospital. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to protect the internet from cybersecurity incidents, malicious activities and misuse.
Your country Botswana has one of the highest internet penetrations in Africa at about 47%. This means that almost half the population are partakers in the digital economy. I am sure that you will learn about the number of devices, particularly smartphones, that far outnumber our population. And soon our refrigerators will be connected – and then the number of devices will be further increasing…
In this regard, the European Union has been working with partners, including Botswana, promoting the establishment of a secure digital infrastructure. This is why we established the Cyber4Dev project. Through this project, we are working with our partners to strengthen cybersecurity, help prevent incidents, and when they occur, be able to respond quick and efficiently to them.
We are delighted to see that Botswana is putting so much energy behind the effort to secure a digital infrastructure for its people. We are also very happy to learn that the Government of Botswana has recently launched a robust National Cyber Security Strategy, which identifies important measures to put in place and capacities to be developed to keep us all safe. Congratulations!
But we all have to take cyber security seriously! Cyber security starts with each and every one of us. We need to work together and recognise the importance of adopting cyber hygiene practices. As we familiarise ourselves with the internet, we must learn to also use it safely. And through efforts such as this one and the recent Cyber Smart Challenge Competition we can go a long way in ensuring cyber security.
Because, this is again where you, representatives of the media, have the most significant role to play, as a critical stakeholder, in sensitising and helping citizens understand the importance of staying safe online, the risks of the internet, and the precautions needed to protect themselves.
On behalf of the European Union, I would like to thank all the role players and our media. I wish to acknowledge the role played by the ministry, BOCRA, Botswana Police and others in making this workshop a success.
I also want to thank Avani for hosting this event but more importantly for sponsoring two of our journalists based outside Gaborone with accommodation.
Ke a leboga. Pula!