Media Statement

28 October 2020

South Africa and the Netherlands co-host successful virtual Global Cyber Policy Dialogue

South Africa and the Netherlands, in partnership with the EastWest Institute and Research ICT Africa, co-hosted a successful virtual Global Cyber Policy Dialogue for Southern Africa on Tuesday, 27 October 2020. The aim of this meeting was to introduce the topic at regional level and to encourage participation in a bigger conference to be held in 2021.

The virtual conference looked at the possibilities and challenges related to digitalization in areas of sustainable development, peace and security as well as governance.

Speakers and participants from across the globe highlighted the importance of private sector, civil society and government partnerships to unlock the development potential of cyber space and increase cyber resilience not only in Southern Africa but also globally.

Ms Nathalie Jaarsma, Ambassador-at-Large, Security Policy and Cyber, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands said: “Digitalisation is of fundamental importance for economic and societal growth and development. At the same time, the increasing reliance on complex digital solutions leads to new vulnerabilities and threats against which countries, organisations and citizens have to act decisively”.

The meeting heard how cyber use and governance require international consensus, and that local participation is key in speaking to the issue that global policies needs to address local needs. Expansion of access to cyber technology and the internet needs to be balanced by education. 

The Netherlands and South Africa are already collaborating in digital projects. The Dutch Bureau for Statistics and the cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town worked together on big data management for the development of resilient and sustainable cities.

The Netherlands expressed its enthusiasm to continue its collaboration with South Africa and the Southern African region to share best practices to bridge the digital divide and use the enormous developmental potential of cyberspace, while working together on creating international norms for responsible cyber behaviour and improve our defence mechanisms against malicious cyber operations.

In his speech at the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, in June 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged the use of cyber technologies to address the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The President further underscored the opportunities, saying: “With the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are going to be early adopters and we are going to be ahead.”

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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