Botswana passes electronic transaction, communications bill

The Botswana Parliament has passed the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill, 2013 (No. 25 of 2013) that was tabled before Parliament, for second reading, by trade and industry minister, Ms Dorcas Makgato-Malesu.

Presenting the bill for second reading in Parliament, Ms Makgato-Malesu said the objective of the bill was to provide for the facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions, to provide specifically for electronic commerce and electronic signatures as well as for matters incidental and connected thereto.

Parliament unanimously supported the bill, saying it would help to protect and improve all business and individual electronic transactions. Having passed its second reading, the bill continued to committee stage and was passed after third reading, without any amendments to its 47 clauses.

Facilitation of the use of electronic means of communication, the minister said would enable legal recognition and validity of electronic commercial transactions conducted internally and externally and recognition, promotion and implementation of information technologies which facilitate electronic commerce.

She also said this would also enable; electronic transactions to be recognised in the same manner as paper based transactions, the promotion of a legal framework to support electronic commercial practices and the promotion and adoption of information technologies in relation to electronic transactions.

Furthermore, the Bill gives electronic signatures the legal equivalence to the handwritten signatures, promote a technology-neutral legal framework for the creation of e-signatures and also give legal recognition to certificates created or issues locally or externally.

In addition, the Bill also provide functional equivalence of electronic information to written information such that certain legal requirements for information retention, presentation of information or information admissible as evidence is recognised regardless of form and promote uniformity of legislation and support commercial practices with legal coverage.

Part II, III, IV and V of the Bill, provides for the; legal recognition of electronic communications, legality of electronic transactions, transmission of electronic communications and secure electronic signatures, respectively.

Part VI, VII, VIII and IX of the Bill provides for; consumer protection, online marketing, the liability of service providers and general provisions like offences, penalties and the power to make regulations, respectively


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