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Africa’s progress on data privacy under the spotlight

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from RUSSELL ADADEVOH in Accra, Ghana
ACCRA – AFRICAN governments must enact effective data privacy laws to enhance the continent’s mobile economy fulfill its potential to reach over US$200 billion by next year.

This is according to experts as more than 1 000 industry specialists met in Ghana to address the issue of data privacy.

They met under the aegis of the Africa International Data Protection and Privacy Conference held this week (June 24-27).

Jean-Francois Le Bihan, Public Policy Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association/ Mobile Special Group Association), said establishing the right data privacy laws was critical to Africa’s digital transformation.

Bihan said to be successful, laws must protect individuals while allowing organisations the freedom to innovate and secure positive outcomes for society.

Data privacy laws should put the responsibility on organisations to identify and mitigate risks while remaining flexible, technology – and sector-neutral and allowing data to move across borders easily, the official added.

“Without adhering to these guiding principles, there is a serious risk that laws will end up being too prescriptive and too rapidly outdated, whilst putting at risk the US$214 billion mobile economy Africa has the potential to reach by 2020,” Bihan said.

Africa is seen as having great potential to profit from a digital transformation that could provide much-needed jobs and improve access to quality services, including finance, healthcare, education and agriculture.

Home to the youngest population in the world, Africa is progressing rapidly in digital adoption.

Underpinned by rising mobile connectivity, the continent has recorded the highest growth globally in Internet access, moving from 2,1 percent in 2005 to 24,4 percent in 2018.

Countries across Africa are at varying points on their journeys towards enacting data protection and privacy laws. Less than 15 out of 54 countries in the region have passed a Data Protection Law.

– CAJ News

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