SADC Parliamentary Forum Discussion Paper: The Digital Economy and Society

The global trends of digitalisation – and now ‘datafication’ – impact every aspect of social and economic activity. Accordingly, the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) is preparing a Draft Model Law for the regional economic community. The net impact domestically will, however, depend on the level of development and digital readiness of countries and their stakeholders. It will also depend on the policies adopted and implemented at national, regional and international levels.

This discussion paper highlights critical areas for consideration in the development of this model law. It is divided into three sections.

Part A locates these national digital economies in the wider global digital ecosystem and systems of global governance. It reflects on the current unevenness of digital development and the digital inequality paradox as one of the most pressing policy challenges of our time. The update on the implications of this in the context of CoVID-19 demonstrates the globalised nature of ‘public goods’, such as the Internet, and the unevenness of peoples’ ability to deploy it to mitigate the negative effects of lockdowns that Governments’ around the world have been forced to institute to contain the spread of the virus. Part A then considers the enablers and inhibitors of the digital economy in the context of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) before turning to a discussion of the digital economy more specifically and the emergence of the processes of digitalisation and datafication. Having addressed the socio-political, economic and technological background for the Digital Economy.

Part B looks at the legal context and what is required for the domestication of a Digital Economy Law within the SADC. The broader objectives of the Digital Economy Model Law itself are realised through policy.

Part C looks at the policy recommendations in three thematic areas:

  • Ownership, controls and access
  • Data safety and interference
  • Data-driven values creation and data flows

Download the complete discussion document and/or synthesis reports in English, French or Portuguese.

Suggested citation

Razzano, G., Gillwald, A., Aguera, P., Ahmed, S., Calandro, E., Matanga, C., Rens, A., & van der Spuy, A. (2020). SADC Parliamentary Forum Discussion Paper: The Digital Economy and Society. Research ICT Africa.