Nigeria, Africa partner to harmonise laws for data protection, digital economy

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For the country and continent to play big and protect participants in the new digital ecosystem, Nigeria and other African nations have developed a framework that would harmonise laws on data protection and digital economy across the continent.

Olufemi Daniel, Lead, Regulations, Monitoring and Compliance at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), revealed this during the Investigations, Compliance, and Ethics (ICE) September final series by Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie Law Chambers, agency report said.

Daniel stated that a framework that is currently being tested in five countries has been created, while maintaining that one of the propositions is that Nigeria is to make Africa a single market.

If someone is transferring data to any African country that has met with the Malabo Convention for Cyber Security and Data Protection, it means the person is sure of a national law that recognises the principles in Convention 108+, said he.

He explained that it should not be a cross-border issue on the countries to transfer data but that transfers should be seamless, especially with the kickoff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“The implication is that any data centre could be hosted in any African country. It also enables multinationals to choose a country in Africa they can invest in and any transfer of data would be linked to Africa.

“With 1.3 billion Africans, you have a stronger argument rather than going ahead individually. This will give investors more confidence to do business in Africa.

“We are keeping an eye on the principles as they are developing and shaping our laws, particularly the National Parliamentary Data Act coming up soon,” Daniel stated.

Global Privacy Counsel of Google, Peter Fleischer, noted that as a multinational company, it is hard to build dozens of services to comply with the laws of various countries.

However, Fleischer disclosed “but if you build a single standard for Africa, that is a lot more effective and efficient for protecting user privacy and proliferation of user’s privacy around the world.”

As Africa continues to develop standards across the continent, he maintained “I hope we will be part of the conversation on how to make it real and the takeoff.”

Partner, Slaughter and May’s Corporate and Commercial Group and co-heads Global Data Privacy Practice, Rebecca Cousin, shared how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applied to non- European Union businesses.

Data protection guidelines, which came into existence about two years ago, advised companies outside of the EU to pay a lot more attention to the regulations, Cousin said.

According to her, it is important for businesses globally to understand where the GDPR applied, and where it does not, and some of the grey areas and ambiguity that might be helpful in some circumstances.

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