African countries have been very slow to enact data protection legislation, but a German-Ghanaian collaboration will now establish a data law and policy centre in the University of Ghana, writes Alfred Olufemi.
Pro-Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Ghana, Professor Gordon Awandare.
A partnership between a German university, University of Passau, and University of Ghana School of Law has resulted in the launch of a centre focused on data law and policy. The announcement was made at a recently concluded three-day conference on African data protection law at the University of Ghana.
According to Daniel Krull, the German ambassador to Ghana, this cooperation aims to enlarge the African footprint in international negotiation processes through the establishment of a data law and policy centre.
The Pro-Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Ghana, Professor Gordon Awandare, noted that data protection is a critical issue for development and our wellbeing. The don explained that data regulation and corresponding strategies are evolving in and around the African continent, thus calling for a critical adoption of an African approach to regulate the use of data on the continent.
"As a pacesetter of research development in the West African sub region, University of Ghana, through the University of Ghana's School of Law partnership with the University of Passau and the support of the German Embassy, is establishing the first ever Data Law and Policy Centre," he announced.
Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law, Professor Raymond Atuguba, disclosed that two Masters degree programmes which will have their base in data protection, will commence in January 2023. Atuguba also reported that the new centre will accommodate the Ghanaian Data Protection Commission and other relevant authorities.
During the conference, stakeholders from different countries – including activists, non-governmental organisations and representatives of government parastatals – discussed “Africa Data Protection Laws: Regulation, Practice, and Policy”.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, only 66% of countries in the world have data protection legislation in force, while an additional 10% have draft legislation.
A 2021 report by the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a coalition of government leaders and civil society advocates, noted that Africans are behind in this global trend. In its report, the coalition stated that only 52% of African nations have data protection legislation in force.
"Of OGP’s fourteen African members, ten states have enacted data protection legislation, these are: Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Tunisia. Malawi and Nigeria have draft legislation, and Liberia and Sierra Leone have no law at all,” reads the report.
“Significantly, all fourteen African OGP members recognise the right to privacy domestically, and there is growing consensus that the right (as well as the right to be free of unlawful discrimination, bias, or any other denial of due process) must evolve to include considerations of data protection.”
The report also emphasised the need for the regulation of data protection to strike an appropriate balance with important human rights, such as access to information and freedom of expression.
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please clickhere
Copyright : Re-publication of this article is authorised only in the following circumstances; the writer and Africa Legal are both recognised as the author and the website address www.africa-legal.com and original article link are back linked. A bio for the writer can be provided on request.