By Bodwa Mbingo | 2021-01-16
Historical! January 15, 2021 will go down the continent’s history books as the day when Eswatini became the first African country to join the 5G Clean Network, a United States (US) initiative aimed at improving digital security, including on 5G. It provides a trusted foundation for countries and companies to ensure the security of their most sensitive information. Yesterday, Eswatini joined more than 50 other clean countries to become the 60th, 170 Clean Telcos and many of the global hi-tech Clean Companies on the Clean Network. This transpired during a Joint Declaration press event held virtually between Eswatini and the United States, where the two countries were represented by Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Senator Manqoba Khumalo and US Under Secretary of State Keith Krach. The two agreed on the importance of securing telecommunications infrastructure and ensuring safe technology supply chains based on internationally accepted digital trust standards. They expressed their commitment to safeguarding each country’s national security by excluding high-risk digital equipment suppliers. Krach welcomed Eswatini into the clean network, highlighting that this is the way for the future where citizens, governments and businesses will interact with each other. Benefit He pointed out that in many ways Eswatini will benefit from being part of the clean network through increased opportunities for foreign direct investment; protection of national security and safeguarding of citizens’ personal data; as well as through fortification of companies’ intellectual property against cybercrime. He said the Joint Declaration on the 5G Clear Network is an example of the strong bilateral relationship that already exists between the two countries. The US Under Secretary of State added, “Today marks an important milestone as we expand the Clean Network into Africa. Eswatini’s leadership as the first African country to join the Clean Network paves the way for expanded US private sector investment and strengthens the joint security of like-minded partners in the region and around the world.” Minister Khumalo, on the other hand, said, “It is critical that the data traveling across Eswatini’s digital infrastructure is safe. The Clean Network provides a trusted foundation for countries and companies to ensure the security of their most sensitive information. Eswatini is proud to be a member of the Clean Network.” He expressed the country’s pride in joining the clean network and its commitment in ensuring that only trusted vendors are included in its digital infrastructure. Both Krach and Minister Khumalo further emphasised the critical importance of ensuring an Eswatini–US partnership based on transparency, reciprocity, respect for sovereignty and the rule of law. These principles underpin the relationship between the two countries and will serve as a trusted guide in the vital area of digital security, including 5G.
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