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

Time
Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (06:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (07:30 UTC)
Room
Press Briefing Room

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Description

The African Union Commission’s (AUC) Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) and AU Data Policy Framework along with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) all detail aspirations of the attainment of a Digital Single Market (DSM) by 2030. Efficient intra-regional trade and supply chain management rely on the smooth flow of goods, services, capital, and data—thus cross- border movement of data is essential to many aspects of e-commerce and digital trade. However, digital trade and e-commerce do not exist in isolation but require several complex cross-cutting considerations for regulatory convergence, harmonisation of legal frameworks , internet governance, information and communications technology (ICT) policy reform and strategic regional ICT infrastructure implementation. The realisation of a secure, rights-respecting, just , and transformative data -driven African DSM requires governing data and protecting privacy in a mutually reinforcing manner which simultaneously balances creating the requisite digital trade and e-commerce enablers, whilst upholding the right to meaningful connectivity, and security for a thriving data economy.

The session will have online and onsite moderators and facilitators to ensure maximum participation for a hybrid format The session will allow for questions and feedback, for both online and onsite participants. A video meeting/online conferencing tool such as Zoom will be used

Organizers

African Union Commision

  • Dr Ify Ogo- Regional Coordination Specialist for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Ms Thelma Quaye- Head: Digital Infrastructure and Capacity Building at Smart Africa
  • Ms Emily Mburu-Ndoria-Director:, Directorate of Trade in Services, Investments, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade and Data Governance, at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat
  • Mr Kenneth Muhangi Esq.- Lecturer of Law and Head of Subject, Intellectual Property Lecturer of Law and Head of Subject:, Intellectual Property, at Uganda Christian University and consultant at the World Bank.
  • Mr. James Hodge, Head of Network of Competition Authorities on Regulation of Digital Markets
  • Ms Souhila Amazouz, Senior ICT Policy Officer, Information Society Division, African Union Commission (AUC)
  • Ms Pierrinne Leaukes - Data Economy Policy Advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarmarbeit (GIZ)
  • Mr Johannes Wander - Policy Advisor, DataCipation, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Speakers
  • Ms Emily Mburu-Ndoria-Director:, Directorate of Trade in Services, Investments, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade and Data Governance, at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat
  • Dr Ify Ogo- Regional Coordination Specialist for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Ms Thelma Quaye- Head: Digital Infrastructure and Capacity Building at Smart Africa
  • Mr Kenneth Muhangi Esq.- Lecturer of Law and Head of Subject, Intellectual Property Lecturer of Law and Head of Subject:, Intellectual Property, at Uganda Christian University and consultant at the World Bank.
  • Mr. James Hodge, Head of Network of Competition Authorities on Regulation of Digital Market
Onsite Moderator

Ms Souhila Amazouz, Senior ICT Policy Officer, Information Society Division, African Union Commission (AUC)

Online Moderator

Ms Pierrinne Leaukes-Data Economy Policy Advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarmarbeit (GIZ)

Rapporteur

Ms Pierrinne Leukes - Data Economy Policy Advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarmarbeit (GIZ)

SDGs

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: Multiple demand side and supply side obstacles prevent the realisation of meaningful access to quality data, the ability to create value (intelligence and insights) from data, and an environment supportive of data-driven innovation and digital entrepreneurship . Addressing these obstacles means taking into account several objectives such as ensuring consumer and business trust, promoting digital inclusion, harmonisation of data quality standards and strengthening connectivity infrastructure, to name a few. Understanding the inter-connection amongst these cross-cutting issues is crucial to mitigate risks and address both barriers to and opportunities in the creation of a DSM powered by data. This requires incorporating clear exceptions for legitimate domestic data localisation policies in a manner that does not hinder the transformative power of digital trade and e-commerce, hamstring the competitiveness of regional and/or continental data and digital ecosystems ,nor undermine domestic data economy development. Partnerships and strong institutions are required to foster digital economic integration that is inclusive, forward-looking and supports coherence that can address across multiple offline and online related challenges.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The achievement of a Digital Single Market in Africa by 20230 as envisioned by the AU Digital Transformation Strategy is a bold and long-term vision which requires the commitment of all stakeholders to bring it to fruition. This entails the collaboration of multiple actors with different levels of knowledge, different interests and different levels of readiness and different levels of capacity.

Harmonization of Legal and regulatory frameworks across the continent remains imperative in order to materialize the benefits of the digital economy in Africa. Creating a conducive digital ecosystem namely digital connectivity, digital platforms and interoperable online payment and digital ID systems are pre-conditions to foster intra-Africa digital trade.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

As part of the second phase of AfCFTA negotiations on digital trade protocol, Member states are called upon to come up with agreements that consider cross-border data regulations, innovation, privacy as well as cyberspace security issues.

Session Report (* deadline 16 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

UN IGF Session Report

Session/event: Open Forum 89: Enabling a Just and Data-Driven Single Market

Date: 30 November

Time: 09:30 – 11:00

Moderator: Souhila Amazouz

Reported by: Pierrinne Leukes (GIZ)

Panellists:

Dr. Ify Ogo:                            Regional Coordination Specialist for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Mr. Jean-Paul Adam               Director, Technology, Climate Change, and Natural Resource

Mr. John Omo                         Secretary General of African Telecommunications Union

Mr.Kenneth Muhangi             Lecturer-Intellectual Property, Partner-KTA Advocates, World Economic Forum 4IR Committee Member, Chair Technology, Media, Telecoms Committee East Africa Law Society.

Eng. Murenzi Danniel             Principal Information Technology Officer at East African Community, Tanzania

Mr Samatar Omar Elmi           Chief ICT Specialist, Africa Development Bank Group

Dr Talkmore Chidede             Digital Trade Expert at the AfCFTA secretariat

 

 

This session was primarily devoted to creating a platform for the panellists to share their sentiments on how the African continent can work towards enhancing digital trade and facilitate cross-border digital trade. The African Union Commission (AUC), represented by Souhila Amazouz (moderator), initiated the discussion by highlighting that the AUC has taken great strides in recent years evidenced by the development of the Digital Transformation Strategy (2020 to 2030) of which the main objective is to achieve this digital single market in Africa. To strengthen capacities in managing data and facilitate the movement of people and goods across the continent the AUC has also developed the Data Policy Framework and Digital ID Framework following extensive consultation and collaboration with both international and national organizations for the development of a harmonization strategy to create an enabling environment for creation of Digital Single Market in Africa.

 

Dr Talkmore Chidede, as Digital Trade expert for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat, provided a report on the progress of the Digital Trade Protocol since the Committee on Digital Trade (comprising of all State Parties) was established in May 2021 to coordinate and facilitate the negotiations of the Protocol on Digital Trade under the AfCFTA. Since its inception, this committee has conducted explanatory and preparatory work by consulting with non-state actors through brainstorming with digital trade experts from the continent at high-level sessions to hear the expectations and key issues to address this protocol on digital trade and hosted regional stakeholder consultations to hear the views of businesses and civil society organisations. Formal negotiations are set to take place between 5 and 9 December 2022, where a report on these hearings will be submitted for consideration and validation by the negotiators, together with a situational analysis on digital trade across the continent which maps the state of digital trade, policy and regulatory frameworks. Once consensus has been reached regarding the rules of engagement and guiding principles, this Protocol is going to develop a continent-wide legal regulatory framework for digital trade that governs intra-Africa digital trade.

 

Mr Jean-Paul Adam of UNECA recognized and congratulated the AU for the exemplary partnership and leadership it has displayed because digital transformation is the tool that will allow the acceleration of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He cautioned that collectively we must address the gaps which exist between the promise, the present and the potential of the AfCFTA. Amongst the regulatory challenges that need to be addressed are ensuring Infrastructure and Connectivity, ensuring Cyber-security and Artificial Intelligence for the enablement of trade. Initiatives such as the Africa Trade Exchange (operated by Afreximbank) – a platform which facilitates access of African companies to trade their goods, as well as African Regional Centre on Artificial Intelligence which was launched in the Republic of Congo earlier this year (with a priority focus on trade facilitation), are already in place to incentivize the continued investment in harmonization of the regulatory environment across the continent.

 

In his reflections on the role that political leadership can play in enabling data to flow within countries and across countries, the Secretary General of African Telecommunications Union -  Mr John Omo, asserted the importance of imbuing political leaders with a sense of urgency and the necessary knowledge regarding the importance of data for the management of national, communal and regional economic systems. He emphasized that we need to address the asymmetry that exists between the technical stakeholders, and the political class – which has access to grassroot networks and can initiate skills transfers. In acknowledgement of the fact that there's not a single organization, or individual, whether politicians or private sector, that has a monopoly of knowledge over this jurisdiction, it is imperative therefore that everyone in the ecosystem is brought together for purposes of data management and this will also bring to light any institutional overlaps and jurisdictional conflicts in terms of the partnership engagements in Africa.

 

Mr Daniel Murenzi of the East African Community shed light on the domestication of the DTS within the region, underscoring the importance of coordinated implementation and highlighting the gains made thus far under the umbrella of the “EAC Single Digital Market Vision and Digital Agenda”.  Buttressed by four pillars, namely Online, Data, Connectivity and an Enabling Environment this Regional Economic Community is promoting digital trade by ensuring all foundational components work across borders, removing trade and customs barriers, ensuring data protection and privacy laws allow cross-border data transfers, sharing cybersecurity resources and removing cross-border barriers to infrastructure and connectivity (in both wholesale and retail). Echoing the importance of addressing the supranational issues in collaboration with various economic communities as well as the African Union Commission in order to ensure overall consistency, Mr Samatar Omar Elmi of the African Development Bank introduced the Upstream Project for Digital Market Development in Africa. This $9.73 million project, which supports the implementation of both the AfCFTA and the DTS, contributes to the implementation of digital enablers such as universal access to broadband infrastructure, sovereign African cloud, African digital market, e-commerce and digital trade promotion programs for medium, small and micro enterprises and start-ups kicks off in Addis Ababa in January 2023. In the main, it aims to facilitate the creation of a conducive ecosystem for digital trust, skills and African experts’ networks.

 

Within this context, Dr Ify Ogo, with extensive experience in supporting member states in the first phase of the AfCFTA coordination in her role at UNDP accentuates the reality that states will be negotiating from their own interests which must effectively be reconciled in order to give expression to the Protocol. She called on these actors to reflect on the constructs of these rules, the reality they were intended to create and whether they fully serve the interest of the African continent.         Similarly, when asked about the importance of provisions in the Intellectual Property and Competition Chapters of AfCFTA, Mr Kenneth Muhangi (a World Economic Forum 4IR Committee Member) stressed the importance of member state buy-in for minimum standards, since this consensus provides the foundation needed for harmonization. To further underscore the importance of reciprocity, he shared the view that Intellectual Property will be the driver of digital trade because it gives companies the confidence to trade freely, in the knowledge that their goods and brands are going to be respected within the countries on a mutual basis.

 

This session highlighted the incredible opportunity which currently exists to galvanize the synergies in the work of the multiple agencies working on this topic across the continent. By strengthening cooperation, raising awareness about shared priorities to ensure complementarity between the different initiatives and building individual and collective capacities, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can facilitate an integrated approach which promotes the shared prosperity from global digital dividends by enabling a just and data-driven Digital Single Market in Africa.

 

Session Type
OF