On 28 July 2022, the African Union (AU) published the AU Data Policy Framework, a resource intended to enable African countries to maximise the benefits of a data-driven economy by creating an enabling policy environment and building a positive data economy at the national and regional levels. The Framework was endorsed by the Executive Council of the AU in Decision EX/CL/Dec. 1144(XL) in February 2022.
The Data Policy Framework was developed in response to a recommendation of the AU Digital Transformation Strategy, which aims to “guide a common, coordinated response to reap the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution.” The Digital Transformation Strategy recommended that a continental framework on Data Policy and management be developed to support interventions to strengthen cybersecurity at the regional and continental level.
The Data Policy Framework aims to make progress towards a “consolidated data environment and harmonised digital data governance systems to enable the free and secure flow of data across the continent while safeguarding human rights, upholding security and ensuring equitable access and sharing of benefits.” In practical terms, it is hoped that it will increase policy harmonisation and improve data flows across the continent.
The Framework makes a number of recommendations for Member States as well as the AUC, RECs and Regional Institutions, which include, for example:
- To create co-jurisdictional frameworks for the coordination of data regulators;
- To develop national legislation on personal data protection and adequate regulations, as well as maintaining effective Data Protection Authorities;
- To ratify the AU Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (known as the Malabo Convention) as soon as possible;
- To establish a coordination mechanism and body that oversees the transfer of personal data within the continent, in collaboration with the African Network of Data Protection Authorities (RAPDP);
- To develop an AU Cyber Security Strategy and establish Operational Cybersecurity Centres; and
- To establish an Annual Data Innovation Forum for Africa to raise awareness amongst policy makers about the power of data as the engine of a digital economy.
Moving forward, it is anticipated that the Framework will be domesticated by African Member States and its key recommendations and proposed policy interventions will be implemented, whether at the national, regional or continental levels.
The AU Data Policy Framework is accessible here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].