The Director of Information Technology (IT) has described the move by Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to harmonise Internet laws as an indirect call for Botswana to develop its own cyberspace legislation to deal with the increasing use of technology. Since Botswanas trading partners are within the SADC region, it has become necessary that Botswana develops its own cyberspace laws that are non-existent at present.

Development of Internet laws will also bring Botswana in line with the latest ICT developments and make it efficient for the country to interact with other developing countries, said Alicia Ramaribana.

Ramaribana told BOPA in an interview that the call for Botswana to develop its own cyberspace legislation comes at a time when the Department of IT, through a policy blueprint termed Maitlamo, has decided to amend the laws governing the use of IT in Botswana.

She explained that the amendment entails identifying laws that need to be adopted or changed bearing in mind that wherever possible such laws should be at par with the SADC provisions.

Ramaribana stated that Internet development in the country as a whole, especially digital recognition of electronic copyright on electronic media, depend on the success of Maitlamo, which builds upon Vision 2016 and provides many key strategies essential for achieving Botswanas development targets.

She described this initiative of harmonising cyberspace laws in SADC as a sensible one, pointing out that it makes sense for SADC countries to have the same definition of what constitute cyber legislation.

The move by SADC countries to harmonise cyber law will ensure cross-border enforcement of cyber crimes such as hacking, computer fraud and online scams, allowing for the extradition of Internet criminals.

Representatives at a recent SADC gathering realised that if the region employed common standards for the collection and presentation of electronic evidence and freely shared such evidence, more criminals would be arrested in the region.

It was highlighted that so far South Africa and Mauritius have already enacted various new laws to deal with the ever-increasing use of the Internet for communication, entertainment and trade whilst most of the SADC member states are in the process of developing their cyber policies.

Organised by the Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development and the Centre of Specialisation in Public Administration and Management, the recent conference held in South Africa aimed at informing permanent secretaries and public service directors involved in overseeing IT in government.