Data protection and privacy have been identified as a fundamental human right, as such, there should be creation of data protection laws in Africa.
This was the submission at the at the seminar/Colloquium of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy held at IITA, Ibadan on Tuesday.
The Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy was the host institution of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy, a multidisciplinary, problem-solving think tank.
The theme of the two-day seminar which started on Monday was, 'Privacy and Security: Building the Evidence Base and a multi-stakeholder action base for Personal Data Protection in Nigeria'. It was revealed at the seminar that most African countries, including Nigeria, do not have data protection laws.
In his opening remarks, the Executive vice chairman of ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, said that the African continent is touted as fertile ground for Netpreneurs, Mobile institutions, increasing use of technology and leveraging the internet to address developmental challenges.
"Required policies and laws in place to address concerns such as data protection, intellectual property and patent, online privacy and online security in Africa are virtually non-existent or at best, far between and calls for spirited informed action, stakeholders vigilance and voice."
He added that, with the exponential increase in the use of personal information by businesses in technology age, data protection has become such a defining compelling agenda for priority attention in many countries worldwide. Olaopa emphasized that it is high time that Africa aligns itself with this global movement by coming up with sufficiently strong and intelligent data protection policy to drive the growth of the African Digital Economy.
While giving a brief overview of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy, member of the steering committee, Dr. Temitope Aladesanmi, said that the formation of the group was as a result of the poor and low level of African voices specifically to Internet policy and governance. He explained that the European Union General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) would come to effect May 2019 and as such, it has significant impact for some local organizations who are in business with the EU maybe required to conform with the standard.
"One of the direct outputs of the main conference was the imperative of the need to begin an immediate discourse with respect to data protection and security in Africa."
According to Co-creation Hub Nigeria, Emmanuel Okochu, the biggest challenge in Data Protection in Nigeria is that most users do not have a detailed understanding of positive sides of data protection entails.
"The people you seek to protect are the ones who don't understand why they should be protected. When you try to explain to people how dangerous it is to keep posting every thing about them online."
Several representatives came from other African countries, including South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, and Code d'Ivoire to mention a few.
According to Tope Ogundipe of Paradigm Initiative,"It is dangerous to exist in an environment where you don't know how your information is used. It is possible you are put under surveillance without any legal framework."
Panelists and speakers at the events were, World Wide Wed foundation, Nnennan Nwakanma, Former director, Data Protection commission Ghana,Teki Akuetti Falconer, Partner Webber Wentzel Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti, Douglas Oyango, Google Policy Lead, Sub Saharan Africa, Titi Akinsanmi, Dr. Lobade Shyllon, Faculty of law, University of Pretoria, Tope Ogundipe, Barbara Imaryo, Research manager, Research ICT, Africa, Enrico Calandro to mention a few.