The Deputy Chairman of African Union (AU) Commission, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey has asserted that adequate, accurate and reliable data are essential and strategic drivers of socio- economic growth and globalization in Africa.
“In our quest for sustainable growth and effective globalization, adequate, accurate and reliable information and data are essentially new raw materials required for effective growth and economic integration globally,” he said.
Ambassador Quartey, also Chairperson of the Advisory Council for the 2018 Data Protection Summit, was briefing the media in Accra, ahead of the upcoming Data Protection African Summit slated from 19 to 23 November 2018 in Mauritius.
The five-day international summit is being organized by the African Digital Rights’ Hub (ADRH) in collaboration with Mauritius Data Protection Office on the theme “Breaking New Frontiers.”
Amb. Kwesi Quartey observed that protection and prudent management of data (especially personal data) are critical in breaking new frontiers in research and production, particularly as many countries are seeking to digitize their economies in Africa.
He therefore urged policy makers and the private sector to put in place measures to ensure appropriate collection and use of information and data needed for all sectors to propel socio-economic growth, noting, that “data is no doubt the new raw material for the 4th Industrial Revolution” and Africa must come to grips with it.
Amb. Quartey also underscored the need for African countries to come together on the issues of personal data protection, noting, that we must distil the general direction we want to pursue as a continent.
He therefore called for sustainable institution of an African continent which is democratic, free, conscious of the life and liberties and protection of the human rights of its people; and which seeks to improve its economic position, able to export and industrialize itself out of poverty.
The Data Protection Africa Summit, first of its kind on the Continent of Africa, brings together more than 400 data controllers and processors, technology companies, policy makers, regulators, industry players, academia, exhibitors and participants across Africa and the rest of the world. The Summit is aimed at, among others, building and enhancing the capacity, facilitate collaboration and showcase expertise on privacy and data protection on the continent.
The African Union adopted the Convention on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in June 2014. Only three out of the 55-member African countries have so far fully ratified the convention. Currently 17 countries in Africa namely Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia and Western Sahara have enacted the comprehensive personal data protection legislation. Nonetheless, the AU Convention stipulates for a personal data protection framework which African countries may potentially transpose into their national legislation, and encourages African countries to recognize the need for protecting personal data and promoting the free flow of such personal data, taking into account global digitalization and trade.