Tech experts push for more efficient data protection, privacy regimes


With Africa’s increasing adoption and use of new technologies, and recent interest in generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), experts at the 2023 Data Protection Africa Summit have stressed the need for more efficient data protection and privacy regimes.

They joined voices in calling on data controllers, users and processors of personal data to be prudent in their management, storage and use of information.

The experts explained that the need to secure transfers of personal information is essential to fostering intra-regional, intra-continental and global trade and security.

Experts and participants at the summit held in Accra further emphasised calls for governments, corporations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to work together on creating a trust framework for data flows across Africa – as this is essential for fostering innovation, collaboration and economic progress while maintaining data security, privacy and protection.

Executive Director-Africa Digital Rights’ Hub (ADRH) – organiser of the summit, Teki Akuetteh, noted that while technology presents numerous opportunities, issues of data protection must be prioritised.

She explained that: “Clearly, we are developing and using a lot of technologies today; and the use of these technologies is also opening opportunities to collect more and more information. Now, if you know the genesis of data protection, you will realise that all of us have fundamental rights as human beings. We trace our right to privacy to the very basis of our existence…without people having their space to be themselves, it affects development and growth.

“However, with the advent of these technologies, it is inevitable that information will be collected. So, the laws are there to push for more protection to be given to individuals whose information is collected. And I think it is extremely important, especially in our part of the world, as we are embracing these technologies to also start thinking about the future and how we can make sure people are adequately protected in our countries.”

Collaboration and innovation

In a keynote address read on her behalf by a Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzie, on the theme ‘Building bridges for oversight and accountability’, Her Ladyship, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo reiterated that the ever-evolving digital landscape and free flow of information with blurred boundaries make robust protection of personal data a paramount concern.

She therefore urged stakeholders in the space to collaborate, innovate and cooperate to create a future wherein the privacy and security of personal data are protected.

She added that building bridges for oversight and accountability requires a collective endeavour and cooperation among all stakeholders.

African countries, including Ghana, face unique challenges in safeguarding the privacy and security of citizens’ data – ranging from limited resources, inadequate legislation and a lack of awareness, which poses significant obstacles to establishing effective oversight mechanisms.

To this end, she added that: “It necessitates the collaboration of governments, regulatory bodies, civil society organisations and the private sector. Together, we can create a comprehensive framework that upholds data protection principles and ensures accountability for all stakeholders. By working hand in hand, we can bridge the gaps and establish a robust system of oversight and accountability.

“African countries must come together, transcend borders and share best practices. By fostering collaboration and cooperation, we can collectively address our challenges and build a stronger foundation for data protection in our continent. We must address these challenges head-on and build bridges that foster oversight and accountability.”


Speaking on “Generative AI and Data Protection in Africa’, Data Protection Commissioner at Data Protection Office of Mauritius, Drudeisha Madhub; Head of Privacy Policy, Africa, Middle East and Turkey at Meta, Dr. Ololade Shyllon; A global leader in Artificial Intelligence, Darlington Akogo, Founder of Two Candlesticks, Matthew Martin and other data protection and privacy specialists including Jenna Franklin and Steve Wood raised the possibility of customisation and understanding the risks and benefits in the African context.

They urged that Africa intensify efforts and implement available frameworks on data protection at the domestic level, while introducing control mechanisms in the African context to ensure the continent does not become a dumping ground for technologies.

They also encouraged the possibility of African regulators engaging with AI developers and deployers in an African context.

The Summit

The protection and safeguarding of personal data are increasingly becoming a challenge in the 4th Revolution. In further advancing the course of data protection and privacy in Africa, the annual Data Protection Africa Summit was organised by the Africa Digital Rights Hub (ADRH) to bring data controllers, processors, tech companies, policymakers, regulators, innovators, business communities and individuals together to discuss and proffer solutions for the emerging issues on data protection/privacy.

The objective is to build capacity, facilitate collaboration, showcase expertise and explore the issue of data protection/privacy on the African continent by creating an enabling environment for the collection and use of personal data as a strategic and critical resource for socio-economic development in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

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