IGF 2022 Day 2 Open Forum #89 Enabling a just data-driven African digital single market

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ:  Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Welcome to This Session On data‑driven digital single market in Africa.  I suggest that we wait five minutes to have more participants and we'll start in five minutes.  And also enable online speakers to speak.  We will have three panelists who will join us virtually.  So we will short start within five minutes.  Thank you.

Good morning.  I think we should start.  We have only one hour and we are aware that most of our panelists, they have other sessions.  My name is Souhila Amazouz, I'm with the African Union Commission.  We are organizing this session on digital trade and data governance with support of our partner GIZ.  We have today seven panelists, high‑level panelists that will share their perspectives and thoughts on how Africa with work towards enhancing digital trade and cross‑border digital side.  So from the AUC side, we have made some progress last few years.  We have developed the Digital Transformation Strategy for 2020‑2030 that has, as a main objective is to achieve this digital single market in Africa and this in line with agenda 2063 development and integration agenda.

We have also developed last year a data policy framework and also an interoperability framework for digital ID that aim to strengthen our capacities in managing our data and also facilitating movement of people and goods across the continent.

At present, we are working with collaboration with all original organizations and in close collaboration with UN ECA for development of a harmonization strategy to create the development of the single markets in Africa.

So as I mentioned we have seven panelists.  We have with us ‑‑ I will follow the alphabetical order.  We have Dr. Ify Ogo online.  I hope she is connected.

>> IFY OGO: Hello, yes.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: We have Mr. Jean‑Paul Adam.  And we have Mr. John Omo and Mr. Kenneth Muhangi who is lecture at the University of Uganda, and we have with us Mr. Daniel Murenzi, who is principal information officer at East African Community.  And we have the chief specialist on Africa ‑‑ on ICT, last but not least, we have Mr. Talt Moore who is a digital trade work from the AfCAFTA.  I will give them a chance to respond to one question with a five‑minute maximum and we will take questions and comments from the floor.  So we aim to open discussion about what needs to be done in Africa, in order to really come up with agreements, with consensus, with common approach on how to regulate and manage cross‑border the flow to enable the intraAfrica.  And the first one is John Paul Adam, who is from AfCAFTA.  From your perspective, what are maybe the key policy interventions and actions that we need to take continental level in order to boost and enable intraAfrica digital trade, Mr. Adam, you have five minutes.

>> JEAN‑PAUL ADAM:  Thank you so much, Souhila, and good morning to everyone.  First of all, thank you so much for involving the economic commission of Africa in this very important discussion, and I would like to also recognize and congratulate the African Union for the exemplary partnership and for the leadership become displayed.  In particular, we ‑‑ we know that the template in terms of policies for implementation of the African continent of free trade is the Africa union Digital Transformation Strategy adopted in 2020, because digital transformation is the tool that will allow the acceleration of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Business as usual is not an option.

Now, we ‑‑ what we think ‑‑ what we need to do in the context, particularly of CFTA, is to translate the AfCAFTA into concrete actions.  And I think we are at a stage where there's a gap, between the promise, the potential, and the actual implementation.

But I would like to start by saying we should never waste a good crisis and unfortunately, we have too many crises right now.  We have the COVID‑19 pandemic, which many African countries are still recovering from and the food and energy crisis which is associated with the war in Ukraine and we have the continuation of the climate crisis Chris is costing African countries 5% of GDP.  All of these issues means that we have to change the model of ‑‑ the economic model and I think digital technologies will be key to that.

The COVID‑19 pandemic has actually shown that in Africa, despite some of the challenges there has been a positive response.  In a survey that ECA conducted in 2021, we saw that 65% of companies that responded to the survey had said that they have accelerated their digital transition in response to the implications of the crisis.

In 2021, it was also a record year for investment in Africa tech start‑ups, 2.51 billion US dollars.  Some cynics may say this is despite the roles of governments and institutions, but it shows that the direction of travel and in terms of the focus of where we need to address efforts certainly the policy challenges within the AfCAFTA need to be addressed and there are a number of regulatory challenges that we must address.  First of all, we need to address the issue of infrastructure and connectivity.  We need to also address the issue of electronic transactions and payment systems.  We need to also address all potential barriers that exist for digitally‑enabled services.

Again, the survey that ECA undertook showed that there are ‑‑ there are relatively ‑‑ there are not so many restrictions that we might think in Africa, but ‑‑ but ‑‑ and I stress this is overall, but we are hampered by the lack of connectivity and we are hampered by lack of certainty.  Sometimes even countries that may have relatively good Internet connectivity fall into the trap of Internet shutdowns and these cost our economies enormously.

And we need to ‑‑ and we are hopeful that through the AfCAFTA we can adopt strategies that can really incentivize the continued investment in harmonization of the regulatory environment across the continent.

We expect that if we properly achieve the implementation of the digital protocol under the AfCAFTA, this will allow us to achieve full integration within the continent and it will also particularly empower the opportunity for medium, small and ‑‑ small ‑‑ micro, small and medium enterprises to be able to have access to wider set of partners for trade.

We ‑‑ a couple of other ‑‑ just to conclude, I think a couple of initiatives that ECA are leading and working with partners to deliver, which can reinforce the implementation of a digital protocol under the AfCAFTA, firstly, one of the pillars for digital transformation is cybersecurity.  It's one that has been under ‑‑ underestimated in the past, notably, only 14 countries have ratified the Malabo protocol.  We hope it will bring it into force, but more critically, the countries need to be able to have a very clear implementation of cybersecurity aspects because trade depends on the security of your ‑‑ of your Internet system, and we can't deliver that if we are constantly at risk of hacks or if user data is compromised or if people do not trust to put their personal data or their financial information into these systems.

One of the building blocks for this is a model law, which will be we discussing this afternoon.  Sorry, maybe you can confirm?  Is it this afternoon or tomorrow?  At 3 p.m., we will present the model on cybersecurity.  That's one.

The second area is around the facilitation of digital trade through digital platforms, the ECA helped develop the Africa trade exchange which is currently operated by African Bank and this allows a platform to facilitate access of African companies to trade their goods on ‑‑ in the digital space, and including where necessary to have access to trade finance because one of the issues may be ‑‑ and we have seen this in countries like Ethiopia, looking to export coffee, they discovered huge demand on Internet platforms but often they have ‑‑ they don't have the immediate resources to invest in the additional production that is needed.

And so the link between digital platforms and then financing mechanisms is key.

And the other area, the third area I will touch on is artificial intelligence and this involving ensuring that there is appropriate regulatory frameworks in different countries and there is capacity for research and the application of artificial intelligence in, for example, the context of trade.  And we have the African regional center on artificial intelligence which was launched in the Republic of Congo earlier this year and which has created a network of universities and academia around research and artificial intelligence with trade as one of the priority areas.

I will stop there for now.  But I think that the ‑‑ the harmonization of work that is being done among different African countries to really deliver on a digital trade protocol weekend the AfCAFTA is one of the priority actions towards actually changing the economic model on the African continent.  Thank you so much.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you very much Mr. Adam for highlighting the conditions that we need to meet in order to enable digital trade in Africa.  We agree that we need to ‑‑ to not ‑‑ to close the digital connectivity gap and also to put in place the digital platforms that will facilitate the payment and also the cross‑border electronic transactions.

Now, we move to our second speaker, Mr. John Omo.  So from your perspective, how political leadership can foster digital transformation in Africa and also how can we enable data to flow within countries across countries and also how we can take advantage of the data evolution to build our digital economy?

>> JOHN OMO:  Thank you very much, Souhila, and thank you for the AUC for putting this together.  And I want to thank the fellow panelists, certainly it has taken quite a bit of wind out of our sails in terms of some of the challenges that characterize data are to development in Africa.

But I ‑‑ I see the role of political leadership in the pursuit of digital data governance in three phases or three levels.  One is at the level of governments.  The level of governments, the level of our regional ‑‑ rather the subregional economic blocks and certainly, at the level of ‑‑ of the continental ‑‑ the continental level.

And whatever the level, there needs to be quite a clear message to the politicians, and, indeed, each and every one of us, because we are politicians, and political leaders in our own rights, in our companies, in our organizations, in our families.  We are leaders.  We are politicians.  And so it starts with us at the family level, at the organizations where we work, before we expanded to our communities at the national level, at the subregional level and certainly at the continental level.

I think the ‑‑ certain characteristics of the data that requires political involvement is captured in the four Vs, volume, velocity, and veracity, big data volumes.  Big data sets that are mind boggling and certainly require that political players get into this space and show leadership.

Velocity in terms of the change.  There are so many changes in the data that we are dealing with.  There's so much variety whether in the form of what I'm saying, which is data in the form of text messages you are sending or those that are writing on their notebooks, certainly sending emails or pictures about this event and so forth.  And certainly, the veracity.  We need to ensure that the information that is out there is one that is verifiable.

And so all of this then requires certain level of leadership to ensure that there's an organized way of management of our data.  And certainly, that requires technical skills and what I see is that perhaps we are addressing the political leadership here.  But much of the information is resident with us.  Those in this room and those that are listening, I'm sure some of our political leaders are listening.  But we seem to be preaching so much to the converted.  I don't know whether you get that sense as opposed to taking the message to our politicians, the political leaders, because I see a symmetry between the knowledge that is available amongst the technical people, in terms of the value of data, and the knowledge that is resident with the political class and leadership in terms of appreciating the value of data and ensuring then that we have robust systems for data management.

And I think we need then to not just up skill, and which I see as necessary in most of our African jurisdictions in terms of technical skills but also, in view of our political leaders with the necessary knowledge that data is, indeed, important, and big data sets are important for the management of national, communal and regional and intraregional systems.

I think as I mentioned JP has indicated certain characteristics of the data in Africa, but I see from 2012 to late last year, an increase from 12 to 28 African countries having one form of data legislation or the other.

Of those that I analyzed, they meet on more fostering safeguards in data protection and less on data enablers which is on portability, localization, for example.  And implementation remains a challenge in quite a lot of our jurisdictions, especially at the national level.  Most of our data legislation is nascent with institutional frameworks that are fairly, you know, young.  And so there are certain jurisdictional ‑‑ I mean, institutional challenges in terms of capacity and in terms of resource allocation on two organizations that are in charge of data management in our respective countries.

The other characteristics that I ‑‑ that I see is, of course, at the continental level as Souhila has mentioned.  A lot of initiatives, you know, at the level of the African Union, at the level of ECA, which is indeed, great.  But I think we need to translate this at the national and subregional level.  Quite a lot of efforts are already being undertaken at the subregional level, at the political leadership which is a great thing.

And so what I see is ‑‑ is the political leadership at the national level, you know, bringing down what is already agreed at the continental level in terms of national legislation.

And it's ‑‑ it's great that we are just one short ‑‑ one country shy of bringing the Malabo Convention into force, but I think we have lost quite a bit of time since that convention was negotiated.  And we data management, time is not on our side, and our politicians need to acknowledge that the more we delay in, you know, actualizing pieces of legislation, our policies, the more those pieces of legislation on policies become irrelevant, because as I mentioned, the one common thing about data is its velocity.  It's constantly changing.

And so whatever framework, legislation, or policies that we have need to be constantly reviewed.  And the more we keep them in abeyance in terms of implementing them, the more I see ourselves lagging behind.  Indeed, in all of our data, Africa lags behind all the other regions in terms of robust data management frameworks.

Now, what our politicians can then do is certainly anchored in some of these characteristics of data management in the African continent, create policies and regulations at the national level to promote digital transformation.

We have seen quite a bit of that.  From 2012 to late last year, upwards of 28 countries of one ‑‑ have developed one form of data legislation or another, which is a great thing, but we need to see more of that in the countries that have not adopted certain of these policies or legislation.

Respond and keep pace with advancements in technology.  That's where I see a symmetry, as I mentioned.  I think the political class, unfortunately, and this ‑‑ this needs to be said.  The political class in Africa, especially at the national level have not quite appreciated the value of data and we need to drive this message to the political class so that we ‑‑ they know that without data, without accurate data, you can't do much, even at the national level.  So I think that message needs to be driven, so there's symmetry in terms of knowledge, on the value of data and that of politicians is narrow.

One, of course is the power of politicians to use grassroot networks to do skills transfer, which is another area that is common in Africa in terms of skills development.  And I think most of our politicians, especially at the national level have grassroots networks and we need to bring everyone on board in terms of the flow of data, which personal data or organizational data.

I think in the entire ecosystem ‑‑ I'm finishing ‑‑ the entire ecosystem, there's various players that we need to recognize.  They may be government.  The private sector plays an increasingly important role in data management in Africa.  The partners from various countries and regions.  And we just need to recognize that it's not a single organization or individual, whether politicians or governments or the civil society or the private sector that have a monopoly of knowledge over this or jurisdiction.  So that we bring everyone in the ecosystem together for purposes of ‑‑ of data management and that clearly is the role of politicians.

And certainly, institutionalizing structures that we agreed on for purposes of data management.

The other thing that I think we need to tell the politicians is that I see ‑‑ and this needs to be said.  I see a lot of institutional overlaps and jurisdictions ‑‑ jurisdictional conflicts in terms of the partnership engagements in Africa.  And so I think the UN needs to listen to this and JP, I hope this message gets across, that our political class needs to realize that the partners that engage in various forms of data management in Africa are great, but each and every partner comes with an agenda.  And so we need to bring all of these agenda into a single scheme where it is the interest of Africa at heart and not so much of the interest of the partners that seek to support data development in Africa.

Thank you very much for listening to me.  There's so much to be said about this.  I don't think there's one single answer.  But that's the reason we are here, to take questions, comments, and to engage in this dialogue.

Thank you very much.


>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you for highlighting the importance of up skilling at different levels from the technical levels to the decision‑makers and also the need to create platform for multi‑stakeholder discussions and conversations and also as organizations, we need to strengthen our cooperation to highlight our priorities, to ensure complementarity between the different initiatives.  And I fully agree with you that we need to create a link between the technical community, the decision‑makers, and also the diplomats or the foreign affairs because they voice the interest of the country at the international level and they enter into discussions with the work trade organizations and discussions about global digital cooperation, and data governance.  I think we need to build our individual and collective capacity and raising awareness is key in this process.

Now, we move to concrete example.  We have with us from East Africa community Mr. Daniel Murenzi, he will share the key aspects that are being addressed by this community for developing their common digital market.  Mr. Murenzi, can make it in five minutes?

>> DANIEL MURENZI:  Yes.  I, first of all, want to thank the opportunity that has been given to the eastern African community to showcase what we did on the move here.  So on our case, as the East African Community, allow me to share with you our vision and agenda for our single digital market that is driving the forces of our single integration and our single digital market.

For those are in connect Africa, in 2018, this is the study we did and how cot East African Community be number one in moving nor the single digital market.  And we have taken four pillars for our single digital market and this is anchored on the whole work that Jean Paul talked about, and what the African Union have done.

On our side we have considered the four cases on the side of the online data connection and the data connectivity, and then the connectivity by itself and then enabling environments.  I will take you through where we are as the EAC, and the key indicators that are driving this.

So when you look at this pyramid that we have done, it shows what we need to do or what we are doing to ensure that we are moving faster to now achieve our single digital market as we have done.

As you are aware, East African Community will have a full protocol for the integration agendas, common market protocol, customs union, political federation and monetary union.

So under the protocol, that's where you find the single digital market, because there's free movement of people, free movement of goods and free movement of services.

So on the single online market, as the period that would now drive our integration and quickly achieve our agenda that we need as the EAC, there's some key pillars that we need to tackle.  There's the digital ID, you cannot ‑‑

(No audio).

Is East African payment system.  And this one has been handling our banking payments with essential banks.  So the next move, we are looking at integrating the retail payment, which is now the study that is undergoing, supported by GIZ.  We thank you for that and the consultant service.  So the purpose is now to ensure that all components of the work burden is removed.

So we found out that you cannot do the digital market online without the consumer protection.  On the side of the EAC, we have the competition authority that has already been established as an institution and it's already working with the national competition authorities in a manner that makes us now to have the things that are integrated.

The logistics part, because we want to look at the trade of movement of goods going on, now the harmonization is job going and we are now working on that.

So on the single data market now, the key enablers as JP has talked about, there's the data protection and the data privacy.  This one we have taken the continental framework and now better anchoring it and scaling it to the regional level.  We were working in isolation, they don't support the data movement across the borders and that's why we came up that and we are supported by the World Bank.  It's being finalized and we are working on the continental framework.

So on the other side of cybersecurity which was mentioned, even now we have taken a step of ensuring that we now establish regional cert or a regional cybersecurity framework.  So this one is being now coordinated at the regional level to ensure that we are able to work together.

You know now if people are moving goods, goods are moving, money is moving, we are setting up the regional central banks soon.  The countries have submitted their request of interest and now we have regional cooperation on the cybersecurity and now the regional framework is ongoing.  We are looking at also the infrastructure, and we are working together on the retail side and to ensure that our connectivity is affordable.

So this we have worked with the African development bank and the other stakeholders to make sure we support the national level and we establish more Internet Exchange Points so that the work goes well.  On the enabling development, there's a major gap through the work through GIZ, we have developed digital skills and this has been tackling with the private sector.

We do have the 50 men and women, we have them in the platform, and this is enabled to be on the digital skills and other environments, innovation with innovation hubs, within our national.  So at the regional level, last week, we did the first innovation week that was done in Uganda as a regional platform that brings all the innovation within our context.

So this is one way that for us to achieve the single digital environment, all of those enabling environments have to move.  So on the payment side that has always been talked about, and what is our approach at the regional level.  The translation is hiding some of the key things.

Our architect ‑‑ we now know at the national level, that there's the national switch and the integration that is happening, but when you move within our region from one country to another, you find there is still a major gap whereby transacting with KCB, ATM, there is another big fee that is going on.  So at the regional level when we harmonize and we establish the regional switch.  Because now we have the national switches to communicate we can bring the MNOs with our national switches and the digital switch to move.

For your information, we are carrying out the study for that data roaming and that is on the web.  We are looking at whether we can now enable the digital data roaming in a cross‑border manner.  So these are the components that we can find that enable the digital trade.

We did not forget, that if you look on the architecture that we have done, we have the ‑‑ sorry.  On this there is the antifraud body of the nation a bank, the central banks and the this is the whole ecosystem of the East African Community that we have come up with and the implementation level, central banks are already collaborating because we have already now established a central bank platform and they are now collaborating to bring the retail payments of the commercial banks.  So this is the way we are moving and we believe that once we have completed this, we can share the experience with our colleagues.

We are looking at the ‑‑ this is our proposed deunified payment interface.  We know very well the digital gaps that Jean Paul has mentioned, and Omar has mentioned there, and others keep on talking.  We know that our colleagues, not all of them are on the SmartPhones.  There are those who are still on the future phones, the USSD and the rest.  And so the platform of our payments which we are building up and we are now working with you are central banks and the commercial banks and also the third‑party players is to come up with an interface which we found that the successful implementation happens in Brazil.

And so briefly, this is the East African Community that we have taken and I wanted to say that we have already secured funds to now remove the ‑‑ the policy challenges that we had.

Today we are now working on the digital signature that has already been a major challenge on the implementers and we harmonized at the regional level and also the regional data protection and privacy law, that was another bottleneck.  But I just wanted to let you know that this is where we are, as the East African Community and we have taken into consideration, that the region has to communicate with the rest of Africa and beyond.  And we also know very well that we have the APAR and other conventions that we are trading beyond Africa.

So within our ecosystem, we are taking it in that direction, and we are happy to share more.  Due to the time constraint, I will stop from here and have more questions and engagements during the tea break.  Thank you so much.


>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you Mr. Daniel for this update.  We are happy to see the progress that has been made in East Africa and as you mentioned, it will be really interesting to share with all the regions and also to see how we can build on the work of East Africa to come up with an approach for digital single market.  Now we have another speaker online, I don't know if Mr. Samatar is connected, it's about the development of digital single market.  Mr. Samatar maybe a few words, in five minutes or less, if you can just update us on this initiative between the African Union Commission with support of the African development bank and how this initiative will contribute to the development of digital market in Africa.

Thank you.

>> SAMATAR OMAR ELMI:  I hope that you can hear me.

Can you hear me?

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: We hear you very well and we see you also.

>> SAMATAR OMAR ELMI:  Thank you to Souhila and the other panelists.  I would like to say a few words for the upstream market in Africa, that has been approved last September by the board of directors of the bank.

First of all, I would like to say that it's important, actually to note that the setting up of digital single market in Africa is a long‑term process on which we must all work for its achievement by 2030, based on the SDGs.

Second, I think it's essential to note that it's not enough to work at country level only to provide solutions, and we do that, through the numerous national, regional and international projects funded by the bank, but it's also important, actually to address the issues hampering the generalization of digital services accessing in the continent, in order to concretize the digital single market.

Admittedly, these actions remain fundamental to prepare the ground for the setting up of an African digital single market step by step.  I think, however, it's crucial also to address the issues in collaboration with the values, the economic communities, as well as the African Union Commission in order to ensure that the overall consistency of the action that has to be undertaken.

In addition, I think it's also important to draw lessons from the past by avoiding authority to have the market as the only horizon here and getting the central role and needs of African population in the digital transformation agenda of our continent.  Therefore, it's important to have jobs, entrepreneurship opportunities from north to south and east to west on the continent and this also requires among others the implementation of all laws, regulation, policies and strategies that are necessary to guarantee the protection of personal data and the promotion of cybersecurity, and the reliability of electronic transactions.

Having said that, the African ‑‑ as I said previously, the African development banks board of directors have approved ‑‑ has approved, actually a grant of 7 million units of accounts which is equivalent to 9.7 million US.  Last September, for the first phase of the upstream project for digital market development in Africa.  The grant has been ‑‑ the grant agreement has been signed, actually two weeks ago, between AUC and FDB and the project kickoff is planned on January 2023 in Addis.

Actually, this project supports the AUC implementation, digital economy project to enhance continental single digital market and this is the subject of this session today.  It's also ‑‑ it will also support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa.

Actually, the details are available online, on this project, but what I would say here, it will contribute, actually to the implementation of digital enablers, namely, universal access to a broadband infrastructure, sovereign African cloud, African digital market, eCommerce, digital trade promotion.  So all of these actions and activities will be actually, funded through this project.

And more broadly, it will help to create a conducive ecosystem for digital trust, skills, and we will also help in the setting up of an African experts networks on digital development in general.

So that's what I would like to say on this project, that is going to be launched in January, in Addis.  So we will be pleased in you also can attend that meeting that will ‑‑ will be happening in January next year.  Thank you very much.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you for the information about this relevant project that will help to develop continental digital comment and also as you mentioned create the right, conducive ecosystem and enabling environment that will foster the development of data‑driven economy and applications.

So we ‑‑ as you mentioned, this project is in line with AfCAFTA.  And we will have someone about us who will update us on the digital trade and e‑commerce, that was highlighted by previous speakers that the second phase of negotiations of CAFTA is on digital trade and what is the status and how will this contribute to the establishment of digital market in Africa?

>> Thank you very much.  Good morning to everyone.  First of all, I would like to thank the organizers for inviting the Secretariat to be part of this discussion today.  You might have seen me on the poster, but I'm here now.

Let me give you a brief background on the AfCAFTA.  It's been mentioned by the previous speakers.  So the African Continental Free Trade Area is a very ambitious project which is trying to establish a single market between and among all the 55 Member States of the African Union.  And the agreement established in this ambitious project is quite comprehensive.  It covers a whole range of issues.  Initially it covered trading goods, trading services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.  And then at a later stage, eCommerce which is now digital trade was also added and more recently, women and trade.  So these would be protocols.  So for the sake of time, I will focus on the negotiation, the update on the protocol on digital trade.

So in February of 2020, the African Union assembly, heads of state and government, decided let's include a protocol on eCommerce within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and in May 2021, the council of minister responsible for e‑commerce, they looked at what we are trying to achieve in the African Continental Free Trade Area.  So they are not ‑‑ there are not two protocols, one on trade and e‑commerce, it's one protocol which is on digital trade.  I think I have to get that clear so that there's no confusion.

So the formal negotiations have been really started but it doesn't mean that there's no work that was done from that time of when the assembly decided that we have to negotiate the protocol.  A lot of work has been done, especially by the AfCAFTA Secretariat which is the technical body of this AfCAFTA project.

So the committee on digital trade was established.  So this is the committee that negotiates the protocol, and then they are submitted to treaties adopted by the assembly.  And this committee comprises of all the State Parties, the trade officials from State Parties.  So it was established in May 2021, and they haven't met for their first meeting.  They are meeting next week from the 5th to the 9th of December to kick start the official negotiations of the protocol only digital trade.  I will give you ‑‑ I will go into details on what are the objectives of this meeting.

As I say that ‑‑ so we have done quite a lot of work, exploratory work, and preparatory work in preparation of the formal negotiations, as the AfCAFTA Secretariat.  So I will briefly mention some of the work that we have done, and the negotiations are Member States driven.  So it's the government officials, the Member States that negotiates but we have tried to ensure that the process is as inclusive as possible to include non‑state actors in the process.  So this is part of the work that we have done.  We have done brainstorming sessions, the technical brainstorming sessions.  We have digital trade experts, ICT experts from across the continent, such that we just brainstormed with them, on what exactly do we need to include in this protocol, and then following after ‑‑ following the technical brainstorming session, we had high level session where we had the industry heads and experts, digital‑related experts across the continent to also brainstorm at a high level to see what are the expectations and what are the key issues that we should address in this protocol on digital trade.

Then after that, we had a regional ‑‑ we had regional stakeholder consultations.  So now we are dealing with businesses, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders, such that we hear their views and their proposals and expectations.  Protocol and digital trade.  What is it that they expect?  What are the issues that they want the protocol on digital trade to address?  And we have come up with a report, which will be submitted for consideration to the negotiators, the committee on digital trade.

And we have also done a study on the state of ‑‑ so we have developed a situational analysis, which is going to be validated next week, a situational analysis of digital trade across the continent.  So we are taking stock of what is the state of digital trade across the continent, and where do we stand in terms of the policy, and the regulatory framework of digital trade since the project was going to develop a continent‑wide legal regulatory framework for digital trade.  That is going to govern intraAfrica regional trade.

Lastly, I mentioned that the committee that is going to negotiate this protocol is meeting next week from the 5 to the 9th of December, and they have to draw up the terms of reference.  They have to know what are the rules of engagement and what are the terms that are governing.  The activities as they engage and undertake this work of digital trade.

And they also need to adopt their guidelines and principles.  So the guiding principles that will guide them as they negotiate this protocol on digital trade.

Thirdly, they need to define this, before we start even developing a protocol on digital trade or the zero draft.  We need to know the scope of this protocol.  So this is something that they need also to define next week, such that they decide from the beginning, the scope and the elements that should be included in this protocol should look like this.

Then moving from that, we develop the protocol in digital trade.  So ‑‑ and lastly, it needs to be validated by the committee so they can confirm if our results that really speak to the situation.  I will be happy to take any questions and also get some comments.  Thank you very much.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you.  It's very important to know that there is already a committee that is set and also the negotiations will start next week.  I think we ‑‑ we are ‑‑ we are all progressing at the same pace, and I think we need to create synergies between the different initiatives and the study that is being done on the analysis of digital trade across Africa will help to shape the discussions.

I think we have with us another speaker from UNDP, Ms. Ify Ogo, she supports countries in the first phase of coordination ‑‑ the negotiation of the CAFTA.  Now that you are moving to the second phase, as it was mentioned by the colleague, it's about protocols on digital trade.  How can we prepare our countries in order to come up with the forward‑looking digital trade agreement that considers cross‑border data regulations, innovation, privacy and also security issues?

Mrs. Ify, you have the floor.  And I would appreciate it if you can make it within five minutes or left.

>> IFY OGO: Thank you to all the speakers and for the invitation.  I think your question is on several interconnected topics.  As we can see, there's already a lot of movement on these issues, for example, with data.  The mandate from the heads of state on the eCommerce protocol, mentioned the Member States having authority over data.  And you talked about the AU data policy framework.  And the Member States have rules on these issues, for example on data policy, you have 33 Member States that have some kind of law on this.

And a lot of these laws speak to the protection of personal information.  We also find that on cybersecurity, there's at least 39 countries that have some sort of rules on this.  And so this is all to say that there is, indeed, a starting point.

And on the CAFTA pointing point, they will negotiate from the stance of what they want to ‑‑ it's the things they are interested in.  It is then important to say, you know, what are the existing and what could be the eventual continental frameworks on these topics.  We see in some sense, that there's some common interests, common purpose, for example, through the Malabo Protocol, but there's variable geometry.  The countries have the things that they are interested in, and they may not be in the same place in terms of their capacity, and they have various policy stances, but overall, there's an interest in saying that this is what they want to do.

So in protocol, the issues at the end of the day, the approach will be determined by the State Parties but what I would like to eye light is that the canvas is not blank.  There's common interests.  And so the issue really is how do we try to attempt to reconcile the stances on these topics.]

There's three main things that we can think about.  One is to understand the rules that exist and then the constructs and the functions of the institutions that take care of those rules.  This will help to understand the incentives, the drivers, the purposes of the Member States as they have created these rules because these are the rules that will inform their stances in the AfCAFTA and then beyond the specificity of how those specific rules are, you need to understand also how those rules are linked in the broader architecture of the Member States.

And the tool, you need to look at the effects of these rules.  Do they realize the reasons they were created and for the Member States that don't have rules on these topics, it's also helpful to understand why.  Why have they not done this?  Is it a policy issue?  Is it an interest issue?  Is it in progress?  Why have they not created these rules?

Also to check the effect of these rules and say, what are the effects of these rules that exist and what are the effects where there are no rules.  It's good to understand the context.  And finally, when you have a better sense of the rules that exist, the institutions that take care of these rules, the effects of all of these results and then you can see within the African continent, what are the groups of issues?  What are the types of things that Member States are interested in?  What are they trying to address in the rules?  What types of rules should be deployed?  What types of issues?  And then it might be a bit more straightforward to say how can all of these things play in the AfCAFTA.  And while I know we talk a lot about the AfCAFTA.  It's one of a few trade deals on the continent and it's also one of a few instruments on the continent to realize the Africa that we want.

The AfCAFTA can do a lot of things and they can take on all of these interesting things that we are trying to achieve.  Thank you very much.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you, and for highlighting that it is a trade agreement and there are will be negotiations and the countries, they will seek to find the consensus and the different aspects and how to make data available, accessible for innovation, how to enable the value creation and also at the same time, ensure respect of the security, the sovereignty of states and also the digital rights of African people.

We thank you for your intervention.  The last one we have from the technical community, we have Mr. Kenneth Muhangi, who is lecturer at Christian University of Uganda and how do we integrate data in the negotiations of the ‑‑ of the intellectual property and competition chapters that we can set the minimum standards and also clarify the status of data as a strategic resource to enable us to make data available, namely the nonpersonal data, accessible to enable and facilitate innovation and digital entrepreneurship.  Mr. Kenneth, can you make it within five minutes?

>> KENNETH MUHANGI: Yes, good afternoon and good morning.  I think you wanted a change of scenery.  I'm outside.  And having this call and speaking to you in Ethiopia when I'm in Uganda.  I'm in a district called Kampala even if I would start that, that indicates the importance of harmonization, one not only of our policies but also in terms of things like connectivity and data because are these things that drive our economy.

And all the speakers before we have spoken about the African continent and the free trade area and its focus on trade in a data‑driven economy.  And really we see that if you have policies within our countries that are focused on actually pushing digital trade, and leveraging data in a manner that would allow it to be able to achieve its objectives which first and foremost if you are looking at the different types data sets.  I think we are looking at the nonpersonal data, and if you leverage this data, we have seen that in terms of service delivery ‑‑ in terms of improving the quality of service, across the different sectors, and specifically around digital trade, this is something that is important.

I think one of the key issues I wanted to highlight which I hope we'll be able to discuss this more is if we have a data‑driven economy, is it driven by governments or the private sector?  I think we have seen whenever we are looking at data overall, the data as we have spoken about through entities such as social media entities but where that data must be for marketing and these entities use it to be able to improve the service delivery and improve their service offering that they have, but we have seen that this data is ever more important in the ‑‑ specifically in the African countries that need to make a an informed decision when creating policies.

I think one of the key sticking points is the succession of digital and without the governments utilizing or leveraging data that informs spending habits or patterns that is able to see how to tax these platforms but without really trying to stifle the nascent industries that they are operating is something that is important if we are to have success, not only within our country like Uganda, but also if you are looking at it in terms of our blocks within the region and, of course, as a continent as well.

Outside of that, really, I think we must also be able to distinguish or see the difference between anonymize data.  And they do mention this, where if we are going to regulate date, you cannot have the same regulations for anonymized data which does not identify human beings and you can north regulate it the same way was data that is categorized as personal data because you have the rights attached to, it like with the right to privacy and so on.

So I think first and foremost as well, we do have the African Union convention on cybersecurity and personal data protection but we still have a few countries within ‑‑ on the African continent that are yet have to ratify that convention.

We still need to have buy‑in, and especially those among AfCAFTA.  And now as we speak, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, these are all countries that have created their own data protection laws and we are moving towards the harmonization or the standardization of these laws.  And actually, if I'm looking at the movement of the data went, we can look at the cross‑border transfer of data which is a sticky subject in many jurisdictions.  If you have a different ‑‑ a different system or structures, that makes it difficult to be able to have data move from one ‑‑ sorry from one country to another.  And I think if we are looking at the ‑‑ at the industries where data is most prevalent and that we need to be able to talk about.  The previous speaker spoke about payments and digital trade, in particular, and we see that data is what facilitates these industries.  Without data I don't think it's possible to conclude any of these transacts but I think even if we have laws, that is good.  We need to have buy‑in from countries to make sure there's implementation.  Because Uganda, if you have a payment company that's trying to operate in Nigeria and Ghana and trying to operate in Ethiopia.  If you don't have data centers that are as equipped to be able to get this data in the particular jurisdiction but you find that most of that data will be kept in Europe and elsewhere, and this will be such a shame because all of these still are revenues ‑‑ sorry, are avenues for revenue, for the countries where these data centers are actually localized, but number two, it also moves to the principles of data protection, especially the principles of our security of data and of localization of data.

So we could also borrow, really from jurisdictions like European Union, like the GDPR in terms of its implementation, and clauses that make it possible for countries to be able to transfer data across borders but in a manner that is contractual, where all the parties are cognizant, one of the data protection laws as they apply.  Number two, as well, there's certain criteria that is set, that makes it ‑‑ the standards that we are actually talking about.  And I think in the question that you have asked, it is important to have this minimum standards because that's what then ensures that you have that harmonization, and that we are all moving together.

But then it's also very important to note that as we borrow from these other jurisdictions, it's important not no just borrow., for example, the consent, and GDPR is strict on consent.  Although we have adopted technology we have a huge population that is still semiliterate when it comes use of these tools and we need to be cognizant of that as we harmonize as well.

One the principles that I'm most excited about is the one on intellectual property.  Intellectual property is the driver of digital trade, and it is the driver of trade because intellectual property is not possible for any of these companies to trade freely, knowing that their goods are going to be respected, knowing that their brands will be respected within the countries that they are ‑‑ that they are ‑‑ that they are expanding or moving into.

And so there's also ‑‑ there's also a need to be able to ‑‑ to harmonize in our intellectual property rules and it applies within the borders of the country where a person is operating.  If we go outside of those borders, it's necessary to ensure through bodies like the African Union, we are able to come up with protocols that allow harmonization of laws where you have ‑‑ where you know that you have a way to make sure that if I have a law in Uganda that ensures I will have my trademark registered properly, that that is going to be reciprocated into another African country and someone uses ‑‑ or in case someone actually tries to counterfeit my goods or uses any trademark in a manner that I have the no consented to.

And so I think all of these issues are very important, as we are looking at harmonization of these laws and it's very important to think practically in relation to the African context.  And this is something, again, I'm really happy about that as we speak about Africa, we have Africans actually sharing issues from their particular jurisdictions about how we cannot push this digital trade theme and how we can also be connected at the same level, rather than us having all of these policies in the air but where the implementation is actually ‑‑ is actually difficult.

I think that's all I have to say about that.  Thank you.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you for emphasizing the need to bring the private sector on board.  And also to have informed decisions that will enable the creation of value from data, and also this can be achieved through data categorization and also certain of the adequate, the necessary mechanism that will govern the cross border of data across the continent.

I think with this, we come to the end of the questions that was ‑‑ that were addressed to our panelists.  Now, the floor is open for questions.  And we can take maybe five since we are out ‑‑ we are running late.  I think I will take from in side and we move from this side.  So we have ‑‑ I kindly invite you to introduce yourself and if possible to whom you address the question.  Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay.  Thank you for the panelists.  It is a really wonderful panel and, yes, there is a panel on the governance of cross‑border data flow.  My question is that actually we have seen many of the FTA already, the ICT, and actually, you know, all of those FTAs, there's exceptions, policy exceptions and the national security exceptions, I wonder whether in the AfCAFTA, they have exceptions, do you have with the security.

Do you have the property rights for the data?  How do you trade it?  In terms of the data how do you trade it?  Do you give the property right to the data?  Yeah, that's my question.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you very much.  I think we have an issue that there is another session that will take place in the same room.  So we apologize.  Maybe we take a second question from this side, and I would start with the gentleman, and I promise that we will continue this discussion in other forums and we will organize other events where we will have the discussion.  So we take the second question.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay.  Thank you.  I'm Hamad Hasim, where I'm working in France.  I am a former undersecretary of federal governance in Sudan.  I was working on the digital transformation of the system, I had a grant of the World Bank.  Unfortunately, this was put on hold.  I have ‑‑ for the sake of the time, I'm sure I will not get an answer for this ‑‑ for this question because of the time limit and mismanagement of the time during the session which is unfortunate.

But Necroma in the '60s called for a central bank of Africa and still now we are not able to do it.  With this regional economic communities fragmentation, is AfCAFTA a possibility to do the economic community and how we can address this challenge?  I suggest to create a virtual group to continue this discussion.  The Secretariat can take hold on that, and we will work on, it because of the sake of the time, and we cannot do it now.

I have other questions also related on the scaling up of the East African Community experience and since it has South Sudan as a new member and South Sudan has not ratified the agreement.  And how you are going to take it on board.  And then the symmetry between the politicians and the political leaders, the political will, how we can enthuse to have the African continental trade and how we can do this in free movement of goods and services and make reality, the continental ID, how we can make African unique passport for all Africa, and we get rid of this ‑‑ this disaster of 1885, which imposed borders on us.  Now we are telling them to keep these borders.  It could be considered as a strategy but not to be a political ‑‑ if you want an African to negotiate, negotiate an agreement at global level, they have to go as 1.3 billion persons, not a single country or any of this fragmented regional economic communities.  Thank you.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you very much.  I think I will give the floor maybe to our panelists, if they wish to respond to the two questions or maybe just to conclude in one minute each and I propose to continue the discussion in the coffee break.  And as I said, I say in collaboration with all the organizations we will continue these discussions and have the opportunity to organize the dedicated meeting to this.

So I would start maybe from the Mr. Omo, just one minute.

>> JOHN OMO:  I think the necessary ‑‑ the political will at the highest levels possible in our governments, in our institutions, in our regions is necessary in this regard.  The asymmetry that comes is that the most ‑‑ most of our politicians at the national level still do not appreciate the value of data.

I mean, look at where you are, the University of Lille and compare that with the National University of Caton, the level of funding of research, it does not compare.  Without research into some of these contemporary issues, you can't generate sufficient information for decision making.  It starts with us telling the politicians that this is at the core of our development, and we will not let it pass.  Thank you very much.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you, Mr. Adam, one or two words.

>> JEAN‑PAUL ADAM:  Thank you very much.  I think building on the previous point, we should also not underestimate how far we have come.  I think even around 2015, if we had talked about achieving the AfCAFTA, we would have said it was not possible.  We were talking of building blocks and so on.

And then in 2019, we have the AfCAFTA.  There's still a long way to go but I think that focusing the vision of where we want to go is a very important step.  And the fact that the digital protocol, for example, is one of the priority areas, there is a Working Group, these are indications that there is a commitment to moving in this direction and it is important that all institutions try to support this process by using evidence‑based inputs to move it forward, because that is what will drive us quickly forward.

I can't resist to talk about the debate about central banks because this is something, which, of course is ‑‑ but to say very shortly, I think it's important to have that debate and that conversation, but I would say that a lot of other policies that need to happen first, before the idea of an African central bank is going to be a reality.  That's not to talk about it or research it, but until we address the issues the AfCAFTA, the idea of a central bank would not be feasible and then, of course, there's the issues of what kind of instruments you want to.  Have we can continue the discussion.

But I would say that it is important that we deal with all the other building blocks to be able to allow us to have that conversation in a more meaningful manner.  Thank you.

>> DANIEL MURENZI:  Yes, thank you so much.  On our side, we ‑‑ we believe in the people driven private sector driven, the region level and also at the continental level, to involve all the stakeholders and have the private sector because they are consumers of these services and also the civil society.  So at the regional level and the continental level, we are advocating to ensure that as we are looking at the digital ‑‑ the single digital market, all the players are not left behind.

Lastly, on what you have mentioned, on the East African Community level, our treaty is anchored on who has signed.  So even if you have not ratified it as CAFTA but you are already a member.  For your information, DR C. has signed on the treaty and next year we expect to expand to Somalia.  But as we conclude we advocate for the private sector to drive this single digital market because they are the ones who are already knowing the gaps that the government are imposing, and the gaps that we first on the policy level are shown when the private sector and our civil society and such forums of IGFs to continue and given a national, regional and continental platforms for the regional engagements.  Thank you so much.

>> Thank you very much.  So in conclusion, I would say that the protocol on digital trade is poised to provide the legal and regulatory framework that is conducive and appropriate to address Africa's needs but also need to bear in mind that we are dealing with 55 countries and countries at different levels of development and most importantly different levels of regulatory capacities.  So the way to achieve the most, especially within the continental‑wide approach, arrangement is for us to have an approach that accommodates these regulatory flexibilities and also the implementation plan that is conditioned on capacity building, technical assistance and also the mobilization of resources.  That needs to underpin the process, not only to come up with the regulatory framework, but also to come up with technical capacity, technical assistance and also mobilization of resources to be part of the process.  Thank you.

>> SOUHILA AMAZOUZ: Thank you all.  I can invite you to join me in thanking our panelists, the on site ones and the virtual ones.  Mine is just to thank you for your participation and also I would like to present my apologies for the organizers of the next session.  So with this, we come to the end of this session.  Thank you for your participation.