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COMESA Secretariat through the division of infrastructure recently conducted a training and awareness workshop in cyber security for key stakeholders with influence in the performance of the Information Communication and Telecommunication (ICT) sector in Zimbabwe.

As the use of cyberspace and ICT networks increases globally threats from a wide variety of sources including criminals, hackers and other agents are manifesting themselves in cyberspace with disruptive criminal activities that target individuals, businesses, national infrastructure and Governments.  The main objective of the training was to support the Zimbabwean Government’s continued efforts to develop strategies, policies, laws and procedures that will improve her ability to ensure the security of cyber space and critical infrastructure such as telecommunication networks, electric power grinds, Air transport, roads and railways.

The training was also meant to enable participants learn how to produce effective cyber security national strategies, policies and laws, Computer Incident Response Teams (CIRTs) and PKI (public Key infrastructure) laws and regulations.

Telecommunications Officer at the Secretariat Leonard Chitundu revealed that the workshop enabled participants the opportunity to explore some of the legal and procedural issues related to ensuring the security of cyber networks and effective ways of combating cybercrime including the use of electronic evidence in criminal proceedings, collection and analyzing electronic evidence, searching and seizing computers and cell phones, online investigation and forensic analysis.

Mr Chitundu said the training workshop was conducted after the Zimbabwe government through the Ministry of ICTs Postal and courier services requested COMESA Secretariat to assist Zimbabwe in setting up the National Computer Emergency Response Teams (CIRTs), National Strategy and policy and guidelines on legislative process among other issues on cyber security.
COMESA secretariat with support from countries with advanced cyber-security institutions namely, Zambia and Sudan conducted the workshop as part of the intra COMESA cooperation in institutionalizing cyber-security and combating cybercrime in the region.

COMESA as a regional body has developed an elaborate cyber security program with activities being undertaken at regional and national levels with a clear road map. Based on the decisions of the policy organs, the Secretariat has developed Cyber security Policy guidelines, Model Cybercrime Law and Model Strategy guidelines. The model cybersecurity policy and bills were developed in 2009. The main goal of the policy guidelines is to assist member countries in the development of a safe and secure cyberspace within the COMESA region and beyond.

Participants to the three day workshop were drawn from the Ministry of ICTs, postal and courier services, Ministry of Justice, Judiciary, Zimbabwe Army, Zimbabwe Police, Office of the President, Regulators, ICT operators, Banks and other relevant public and private sector representatives.