Online consultation: Call for submissions on Africa Data Policy Framework

Please note that there will be a consultation workshop on 29 July 2021 for the African Union Commission’s Africa Data Policy Framework. To register, please click here.

The submission deadline for this online consultation is 12pm noon SAST, 2 August 2021.

Make your voice heard!  Contribute to this public consultation on a Data Policy Framework for Africa being developed by  the Africa Union Commission. The AUC has commissioned Research ICT Africa (RIA) to support this process, which is made possible by  the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under the  Data-Cipation programme. Your participation will enable the continental data policy to meet its envisioned objectives by reflecting the interests of all stakeholders.

Global trends of digitalisation – and now ‘datafication’ – are structurally transforming the world economy and impacting every aspect of our lives. Data has often been described as the ‘new oil’, (incorrectly, as it is not finite, is non-rivalrous and therefore does not produce the same scarcity issues). But as oil drove the 20th century industrial economy, data drives the 21st century information economy. All over the world across the public, private and civil society sectors, organisations are developing data policies or strategies to drive their economies. Data has the potential to improve the delivery of existing public and private services and create new ones. It is a central input of scientific and technological innovation, with the potential of contributing to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These intensifying processes call for a coordinated African response. To this end, in 2020, the AU adopted  a comprehensive Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) through which African societies and economies will harness digital technologies for local innovation. The main objectives are to improve life opportunities, ameliorate poverty, reduce inequality facilitating the delivery of goods and services, and generally contribute to the achievement of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. 

Recognising data as a critical factor of production in a modern economy, the Executive Council of the AUC adopted a recommendation from the strategy to develop a continental framework on data policy, which will be submitted to the Specialised Technical Committee on Communication and Information Technologies (STC-CICT) in October 2021. 

It is against this backdrop, that the AUC through the GIZ funded DataCipation program has commissioned Research ICT Africa (RIA) to draft a policy framework for the creation of a common data system. The policy framework aims to regulate the ever-increasing production and use of data across the continent, whilst creating a safe and trustworthy digital environment that supports the development of a sustainable and inclusive African digital economy and society. 

Why are we consulting, who should respond and how?

Given that data now traverses every aspect of daily life, but under very different contexts in member states, the framework will provide principle-based guidance for the domestication of data policy. To enable the continental data policy to meet its envisioned objectives and reflect the interests of stakeholders, there will be a two-phase public consultation process. 

This first phase will focus on the outline of the policy, establishing foundational definitions and identifying key policy issues. Inputs made through this online consultation will inform the development of the draft policy framework. A follow up online consultative workshop will be convened by the AUC on the 22nd of August to validate the continental data policy before submission of the final document to the AUC Data Policy Task Force and thereafter the STC-CICT. 

While this public consultation is open to individual or institutional stakeholders across the African continent and beyond, we consider this consultation to be of particular interest to the following groups:

  • policy makers, organisations that curate public interest data (trade, revenue, and monetary authorities), and statistical offices at the national level;
  • information, sector and competition regulators;
  • regional economic communities seeking to harmonise regulation of digital markets;
  • continental bodies associated with the development of the African continental free trade area;
  • sector specific organisations with particular data needs, for example, health, education, agriculture;
  • civil society organisations working on topics related to digital rights, data governance and data justice and cybersecurity;
  • research and policy organisations with special interests in the role of data in the economy, society and local innovation;
  • regional or global alliances, industry associations communities or economic development agencies;
  • platform companies, tech starts-ups, and data-driven small-to-medium businesses or organisations; and
  • technology and digital services investors, donors and development banks.

We invite responses guided by questions after each section of this call, starting from section 4. It is not mandatory to respond to all the areas or questions, and we specifically encourage respondents to provide inputs in the areas of their expertise; however, we encourage respondents to provide as much detail as possible guided by an ecological understanding of how each area relates to the others.

Submissions should be made through the online portal here no later than 12pm noon SAST, 2 August 2021.