The African Union Commission (AUC) is developing a Data Policy Framework for Africa. 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.
To ensure that the continental data policy meets its envisioned objectives, RIA adopted a dynamic consultation process, to reflect the interests of all stakeholders, including a consultation workshop to gain further inputs and validation from jurisdictions across the continent across two themes: the economic regulation of data and data governance.
Watch a video recording of the open consultation workshop, in which stakeholders discussed these themes, especially, as they relate to the role of sovereignty and localisation when considering data security and value creation chains, as well as the regulatory frameworks and political instruments, which define a trust environment, needed for the realisation of an integrated African digital market. An important focus of the discussion was ensuring that the framework promotes human and data rights beyond the right to privacy.
Developing the data policy framework is a recommendation from the African Union Digital Transformation Strategy, which aims to harness digital technologies and innovation to transform African societies and economies to promote Africa’s integration, generate inclusive economic growth, stimulate job creation, break the digital divide, and eradicate poverty for the continent’s socio-economic development. The strategy is a recognition of the efforts of the continent’s leadership to prioritise and accelerate digital transformation. It further builds on existing AUC initiatives and frameworks such as the Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the African Union Financial Institutions (AUFIs), the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM); and the Free Movement of Persons (FMP) to support the development of a Digital Single Market (DSM) for Africa, as part of the integration priorities of the African Union. Data and the governance thereof are recognised as one of the essential cross-cutting themes required to support the digital ecosystem.
The envisioned data policy framework therefore seeks to provide a shared vision of a data realm that is achieved in a just and fair manner, whilst creating the safe and trusted digital environment necessary for the development of a sustainable and inclusive African digital economy and society. Through this multi-stakeholder process the African Union Commission is delivering on its commitment to work closely with regional economic communities and international specialised institutions to provide guidance to African Union member states on the foundational blocks for building a resilient digital economy and society.
The consultation process
To enable the continental data policy to meet its envisioned objectives and reflect the interests of stakeholders, RIA has proposed a two-phase public consultation process. The first phase, launched 17 July 2021, was an online consultation to inform the development of the draft policy framework. A follow up online consultative workshop was convened by the AUC on the 29th of July 2021 to validate the continental data policy before submission of the final document to the AUC Data Policy Task Force and thereafter the Specialised Technical Committee on Communication and Information Technologies.