Today is Friday, we trust you are excited because it’s the close of business for the week (TGIF, right). Do you know what is most exciting about today? It’s another edition of our AFCFTA newsletter (smiley).
Yes, the AFCFTA is positioned to bring the much-anticipated economic freedom not only for entrepreneurs and businesses in Africa, but also to private individuals especially as it facilitates the free movement of goods and services across Africa. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the Free Trade Agreement has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52% (Fifty two percent) by 2022. This unprecedented economic breakthrough in Africa is of course not without its demerits. For one, entrepreneurs must now worry about the safety of the transfer of personal and corporate data while transacting within AFCFTA. So, today, we shall be examining the Data Privacy considerations on AfCFTA.
Have you ever wondered about the implications of sharing your personal and corporate information with business prospects both locally and internationally? Do you know that there are laws and mechanisms in place to ensure proper data privacy of individuals and corporations? These laws are generally known as Data Protection Laws.
Data protection laws are meant to ensure the proper handling of information and safeguard the rights of individuals and corporations to have control over their data and exactly how it is dealt with, refined, gathered, or shared. It is expedient, at this stage, to have an insight on what Data Privacy entails.
Data Privacy generally means the ability of a person to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent the information about them is being shared with or communicated to others. The information, which is often shared, either virtually or otherwise, can be one’s name, location, contact information, trade secret, client’s intimate information etc. this information is generally and technically referred to as ‘data’. The importance of data protection cannot be over emphasized especially considering the exponential rate of cybercrimes in the world today.
The year 2021 alone has witnessed major cyber-attacks, some of which were benign while others were extremely malicious. Even the bigger multinational corporations haven’t been spared by the cruel black hats. For example, the attack on the Microsoft exchange server which occurred in January exposing confidential information of giant corporations and government agencies such as email addresses, passwords, financial records, etc.
In many jurisdictions, data privacy is considered a fundamental human right, for example, in Nigeria, the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan recently ruled that data privacy is contemplated within the provisions of Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) – CFRN. This unparalleled decision of the Court of Appeal alone has reiterated the urgent need for the safeguard of data privacy and transfer of personal data across the globe.
Data Privacy Laws and their benefits for the AFCFTA
The most famous international Data Privacy law which is subscribed to by most of the Participating AFCFTA States is the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (‘the Malabo Convention’). The Malabo convention, precisely in chapter two, Article 8, provides thus:
“Every State party shall commit itself to establish a legal framework aimed at strengthening fundamental rights and public freedoms particularly the protection of physical data and punish any violation of privacy without prejudice to the principle of free flow of personal data.” Flowing form this provision, many AFCFTA subscribing States have now instituted a Data Privacy law in compliance with the Malabo Convention.
In Nigeria, the chief Data Protection framework is the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation, 2019 (‘NDPR, 2019’). The Regulation was established to safeguard the protection of privacy rights in Nigeria. Data Privacy is strongly protected in the Regulation which provides amongst others that Personal Data shall be:
collected and processed in accordance with specific, legitimate and lawful purpose consented to by the Data Subject…”
Methodologies with which Businesses can ensure proper Data Privacy Protection in line with the Laws and Best Practices.
As African trade picks up, and as African countries seek to boost exports internationally, global best practices in the protection of personal information will become ever more important. But what happens when a prospective business partner resides in a country which has no Data Protection Law? How does a business then protect its data? The answers to these questions are not far-fetched. The following are suggested practices with which Data Privacy can be protected.
Establish a Compliant Data Protection Policy for the Organization
Business organizations must institute a proper Data Protection framework and ensure that it is dutifully implemented.
Organize an awareness workshop and trainings
Employees of business organizations need to be properly trained on the basic principles of privacy and best practices, and how to apply them at work. Employee security awareness training is one of the most effective means of reducing the potential for costly errors in the handling of sensitive data.
Transact with prospects who are Statutorily compliant
Businesses may also decide to transact only with Prospective businesses or individuals who are compliant with extant laws on Data Privacy.
Benefits of Being Data Privacy Compliant
The following are the overall benefits of choosing to be compliant with Data Privacy instruments and international best practices.
- It helps to keep personal data secure and protected.
- It protects valuable information such as business transactions and financial statements, hence this invariably increases revenue of the businesses both offline and online.
- It increases quality of stored data as well data during transaction.
- It reduces risk of financial loss.
- Attacks are prevented therefore integrity of company’s information is intact
From the foregoing discussion, we can only hope that you appreciate the need to consider Data privacy as an integral and a very crucial part of the overreaching success of your business organization especially in the wake of the AFCFTA operations. This is because transfer of data is the quintessence of business dealings in the digital and non-digital economies around the world and there are laws to safeguard the same. For example, the Malabo Convention which has readily set the standard for the African Continent. It is believed that if all the participating States of AFCFTA ratify the Malabo Convention, it would aid an integrated implementation framework for the security of personal data and would also facilitate the realization of the objectives of the AFCFTA
Thank you for your time and remember that we are only a call or email away from answering your questions or providing clarifications on the subject.
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