South Africa and the Netherlands co-hosted successful in-person Global Cyber Policy Dialogues

South Africa and the Netherlands, in partnership with the Observer Research Foundation America and ICT Africa co-hosted a successful two-day in-person Global Cyber Policy Dialogues for Southern Africa on Monday, October 31– Tuesday, November 1, 2022, in Pretoria, South Africa.

The aim of this meeting was to promote awareness on cyber matters, focusing on improving the security and stability of cyberspace and strengthening capacity and regional cooperation to address challenges in several interrelated areas such as peace and security, resilience, crime, and sustainable development The initiative is intended to complement ongoing international-level cyber processes, such as the United Nations Open-ended Working Group and Ad Hoc Committee on Cyber Crime.

H.E. Mr Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, opened the Dialogue virtually: “We share an enduring commitment to upholding the international rules-based order. We both believe rules apply in cyberspace, as they do elsewhere. And as your presence at this conference shows: we’re not alone in this belief. I’m glad that you – experts and practitioners from southern African governments, civil society, academia and the private sector – are gathering in Pretoria. Your contributions today are vital to helping to shape a digital domain that is guided by norms.”

On behalf of H.E. Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, H.E. Ambassador  Mxakato-Diseko, addressed the round table  impressing on the importance of continuing this cross regional strategic partnership underpinned by the cross participation of stakeholders including the private sector and civil society organizations. The Ambassador emphasized the importance of addressing the digital divide through capacity building as well as enhancing international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime and ensuring cybersecurity. The urgent need for socio-economic transformation of our societies through leveraging the benefits that cyberspace was also highlighted.

The in-person dialogue 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 the Southern African region and 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.

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 expressed their commitment to continue its collaboration with 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 behavior and improve our defense mechanisms against malicious cyber operations.