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Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education, Honourable Patricia Kaliati, has called for collaboration in securing Malawi against cyber threats.

The Minister was speaking when she presided over the official opening of a five-day high level workshop aimed at developing a National Cyber Security Strategy for Malawi in Lilongwe. The workshop has been organized by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) in close collaboration with MACRA.

Hon. Kaliati noted that Malawi cannot tackle cyber crime on its own as cyber crime is borderless and cyber criminals threaten Malawi from geographic locations across the world.

She said at a time when Malawi is opening up to increasing online transactions, the country is now more prone to cyber crime.

“We have heard stories of how we lost some of our young girls and boys through human trafficking initiated over the cyber space. We have experienced attacks on Government Departments’ websites by some unscrupulous hackers causing interruption to the smooth flow of information for vital Government services,” said the Minister.

She told a gathering of over 100 participants from the academia, civil society organizations, telecommunication operators, banks, security agencies and Government departments and ministries that it was now time to tackle cyber crime head on and make Malawi one of the most secure places in the world to do business in the cyberspace.

Hon. Kaliati expressed optimism that the National Cyber Security Strategy would strengthen the capacity of Malawi’s law enforcement agencies in disrupting and prosecuting cyber criminals and protecting the cyber interests of the country.

“The Government is therefore committed to ensuring that law enforcement agents have the powers they need to investigate cyber crimes. We need to consider how these competencies can be delivered for the benefit of the citizens,” she said.

CTO General Secretary, Mr. Shola Taylor, commended the Malawi Government for showing great willingness to adopt a national strategy that protected Malawi from the cyber threats.

“Malawi is a beautiful peace loving country and highly susceptible to cyber attacks,” said Mr. Taylor.

He said his organization had developed an action plan for Malawi that would help the country stay in sync with other developed countries that are responding to the increasing threats in the cyber world.

MACRA Director General, Mr. Godfrey Itaye, said in the absence of specific cyber security laws, the regulator was grateful that the Government in close collaboration with some of its key stakeholders has come up with legislation such as the Electronic Transaction Bill (e-Legislation Bill) which is expected to be tabled in the National Assembly soon.

“Our optimism is on this bill as it will address promotion of e-transactions and e-commerce, facilitate the use of e-application in public sector and deal with online liability,” he said.

Mr. Itaye observed that other aspects in the e-Legislation Bill are recognition of digital data in rules of evidence, e-signatures, cryptography for authentication and establishment of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which are great steps towards addressing cyber threat concerns in Malawi.

The workshop officially kicked off a project aimed at establishing a steering committee and working groups on the CTO’s approach to developing a National Cyber Security Strategy. The meeting also agreed on the roles and responsibilities of the steering committee and working groups as well as scope of work, work plan, goals and time frame.