South Africa: African Nations Coalition to Coordinate the Data Protection Framework
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The Coalition of African Nations has developed a data protection framework to centralize data protection regulations and the digital economy across Africa. Currently, five countries, including Nigeria, are testing the data protection framework with the goal of making Africa a single market. Once the tests are complete, the data protection framework will be replicated in additional African countries.
The data protection framework, which focuses on data transfers, is based on the legal agreement of the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection, also known as the Malabo Convention on Cybersecurity and Data Protection. Adopted on 27 June 2014, the Malabo Convention sets out the fundamental principles for creating a credible and legal digital environment. The Malabo Convention also addresses loopholes in previous legislation on consumer protection, intellectual property, personal privacy and digital privacy. The purpose of these new guidelines is based on the Malabo Convention, ensuring smooth and protected data transfer between African peoples. The framework will also help simplify companies’ compliance efforts when transferring their data overseas, due to the existence of one centralized data protection regulation rather than multiple national laws. The framework is also seen as a way to encourage companies to store data in Africa by providing clear guidance.
Olufemi Daniel of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is pushing for a unified policy for cross-border data transfer in Africa, saying: “This means any data center can be hosted in any African country. It also enables multinationals to choose a country in Africa that they can invest in, and any data transfer would be tied to Africa. With 1.3 billion Africans, you have a stronger argument than going forward individually. This will give investors more confidence to do business in Africa.
The Uniform Data Protection Standard in Africa is seen as a positive step forward, providing efficient and effective options for companies looking to keep their data and customers safe. The test of the new framework is still ongoing; however, participating countries and companies appreciate the potential of a strong, collaborative data protection framework across the continent.
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