Media Statement

28 September 2021

South Africa and the United Kingdom co-hosted the Inaugural SA – UK Dialogue

On 28 September 2021 the Republic of South Africa and the United Kingdom held the first ever ICT Cyber Dialogue. The two sides exchanged views on the cyber threat landscape including cybercrime, the future of UN cyber processes relating to responsible state behaviour in cyberspace and international cybercrime treaty negotiations, international data transfers and cyber capacity building efforts.

Discussions between the two countries were underpinned by the principles of the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration 2018. The UK and South Africa reconfirmed the importance and value of a free, open, inclusive and secure cyberspace to promote economic growth for all communities and to act as an enabler for the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals.

The Republic of South Africa and the United Kingdom value this dialogue as an opportunity and committed to strengthening the existing cordial bilateral relations in the area of cybersecurity and cybercrime. The meeting welcomed the existing cooperation in the ICT and Cyber area, including the support South Africa has received to bolster national efforts to promote awareness in schools through funding from the UK Prosperity Fund Digital Access Programme.

The two Governments agreed that the fight against cybercrime is a common and shared responsibility of all member states requiring enhanced international cooperation, especially as the world grapples with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting reflected on the importance of uniting behind an all-inclusive, single-track approach in addressing the responsible state behaviour work conducted in the United Nations.

The South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor and former UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, committed to holding an annual SA/UK ICT Cyber Dialogue as an outcome of the Bilateral Forum that took place in May 2021. The Dialogue is a mechanism where both countries can discuss the contribution of cyber to sustainable development, combatting cybercrime, cyber governance and cyber training, skills and education.

The two countries underscored the importance of scientific and technological collaboration to tackle international issues such as COVID-19 and climate change. Both countries spoke of the role that our countries can play in shaping a positive vision for technology and cyberspace that safeguards freedom and openness and promotes peace and prosperity.

Earlier this year the British High Commission and Department of Communications and Digital Technologies signed a Joint Declaration of Intent to cement these capacity building efforts. Through the Digital Access Programme, the UK and South Africa will work collaboratively towards unlocking development benefits of digital access for poor, marginalised and excluded groups; promoting trust and confidence in online services and building stronger national digital ecosystems. South Africa and the UK will continue to work together on the Implementation of the Digital Access Programme projects as mandated by the Joint Declaration of Intent between the British High Commission and the Department for Communications and Digital Transformation.

There is consensus that ensuring greater digital access is key to spurring innovation and building the more inclusive growth of the future.  Through the Digital Access Programme - worth just over £5.5 million over the next two years – the UK is supporting the South African Government to build affordable, safe and secure digital access for excluded or underserved populations in South Africa. In this way, the two Governments impressed on the need to ensure that digital access is safe, including from the growing threats of cybercrime. The first ever ICT SA-UK Cyber dialogue signifies the UK’s desire to develop a close relationship with South Africa in dealing with cyber threats which is key to the UK and South Africa’s collective online security and prosperity.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Isabel Potgieter
Spokesperson British High Commission
Mobile: +27 (0)833911606
Email: Isabel.potgieter@fco.gov.uk

For media enquiries, please contact:

DIRCO (Spokesperson)
Title: Mr Clayson Monyela
Mobile: +27 (0)828845974
Email: monyelac@dirco.gov.za

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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