Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy Mr. Eliud Owalo,EGH, FIHRM, calls for Digital Sovereignty and Data Governance in Africa as he officially opens NADPA-RADPD AGM & Conference

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy Mr. Eliud Owalo,EGH, FIHRM, calls for Digital Sovereignty and Data Governance in Africa as he officially opens NADPA-RADPD AGM & Conference

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy Mr. Eliud O. Owalo, FIHRM, EGH, has called for digital sovereignty and data governance in Africa as he officially opened the Network of African Data Protection Authorities (NADPA-RAPDP) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and two-day Conference at Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club.

The event, which brings together data protection authorities across Africa and data protection stakeholders, is aimed at formulating strategies to promote Regional Data Governance for Digital Transformation.

In attendance during the event were the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Honourable Lady Justice Martha Koome, Principal Secretary State Department for ICT and Digital Economy Eng. John Kipchumba Tanui, MBS, Nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Irene Mayaka who is also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation, Data Commissioner Ms. Immaculate Kassait, MBS, German Ambassador to Kenya Sebastian Groth, EU Deputy Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Kenya Ondrej Simek, and Tchimaden Hadatan Sanady, the Chairperson NADPA-RAPDP and Chair Data Protection Authority, Niger, Heads of African Data Protection Authorities and CEOs of various State Corporations and private organisations.

In his remarks, the CS acknowledged the unique challenges and opportunities faced by African countries in asserting control over their digital future, while navigating the influences of global competing interests and ensuring that partnerships contribute to sustainable growth and job creation.

“I encourage you to explore the current state of digital sovereignty and data governance in Africa and discuss strategies for shaping a prosperous and self-determined digital landscape,” he said.

The CS further noted the significance of the conference in alignment with the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection (Malabo Convention) which seeks to promote e-commerce by securing the cyber space through combatting cybercrime, enhancing personal data protection and promoting the African digital economy.

He emphasized the importance of cross-border data transfer noting its benefits to drive the digital economy by allowing businesses and consumers to access the best available technology and services, wherever those resources may be located around the world.

The Cabinet Secretary also raised concern of the vulnerability of children today who are early adopters of ICTs, further calling for NADPA members to promote child safety through ensuring data holders undertake age verification and seek consent when processing personal data relating to children.

In the wake of increasing use of Artificial Intelligence in various aspects of life, the CS announced that Kenya through the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy is currently reviewing the legal, policy and regulatory framework with a view of proposing reforms and new policies, including the adoption of emerging technologies to align with the Bottom-Up-Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

In her remarks, CJ Martha Koome noted that the significance of the conference at a time when the exponential growth of information and communication technologies have revolutionized transactions, communication and interactions with the world around us bringing along new challenges, particularly in the realm of data privacy and protection.

“The proliferation of remote transactions has brought convenience and efficiency to our lives, but it has also heightened the risk of fraud and 3 misuse of personal information. Every time individuals engage in online activities, they leave behind a digital footprint—a trail of personal data that, if mishandled, can result in identity theft and erosion of trust in digital services,” she said.

The CJ called for increased collaboration amongst public agencies in developing unified data points that can be shared across sector continuums. “By doing so, we can reduce the risks associated with collecting data from multiple sources while simultaneously improving the 6 quality and accessibility of data for decision making.”

“By working together, African nations can create a data ecosystem that serves the public interest while protecting the fundamental right to privacy. We can become leaders in data protection, setting standards that the world will look to for guidance” she said.

PS Tanui, on his part, reiterated the importance of forging partnerships with like-minded countries and organizations to promote cross-border data flows, while upholding high standards of data protection. “This includes exploring mechanisms such as adequacy decisions, which facilitate the seamless transfer of data between jurisdictions that have comparable levels of data protection and regulation harmonization to ensure consistency and clarity for businesses and consumers alike. “

The Data Commissioner, in her remarks noted that the conference seeks to provide all participants of the conference with a platform to network and exchange knowledge, gain new ideas and perspectives from peers on Africa’s digital transformation journey, data governance frameworks, especially in emerging areas on regulation of personal data, cross border data transfer and technological advancements such as AI, block chain and the Internet of Things.

“There will be a total of eight panel discussions focusing on Cross-border data governance; Building a safe and trusted digital space for Children; leveraging of privacy enhanced technologies (PET) to enhance privacy and security; challenges faced by data protection authorities; the future of digital sovereignty and data governance in Africa; Data Protection and Security in Public Cloud; Strengthening of Data Protection through partnership and digital public goods for inclusive development,” she added.

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NADPA-RAPDP AGM & Conference

NADPA-RAPDP Annual Conference