The GSM Association (GSMA) is forecasting that the mobile economy will reach US$214 billion, representing 7.6 percent of the overall GDP of Africa, by 2020.
The association, therefore, believes Africa has an opportunity to harness the digital economy as a driver of growth and innovation, and failure to seize this opportunity will lead to economic isolation and stagnation.
In a statement that was issued by the association, it said Africa had great potential to profit from a digital transformation that could provide the much-needed jobs and improve access to quality services, including finance, health care, education and agriculture.
It is to help harness this opportunity that the GSMA has introduced its new laws to guide data privacy, which is considered as the key challenge facing Africa’s digital future.
The new ‘guiding principles for smart data privacy laws’, which were introduced at the ongoing Africa International Data Protection and Privacy
Conference, are aimed at supporting African countries and other stakeholders to move forward as they consider data protection and privacy, a release from the association stated.
In the release, the GSMA said the right approach to data privacy would be critical to building trust in new technologies and systems, but there was a need to accelerate the progress being made.
“Countries across Africa are at varying points on their journeys towards enacting data protection and privacy laws. Less than 15 out of 54 countries in the region have passed a data protection law,” it said.
The Public Policy Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Mr Jean-Francois Le Bihan, also said in the release that establishing the right data privacy laws was critical to Africa’s digital transformation.
“To be successful, laws must protect individuals while allowing organisations the freedom to innovate and secure positive outcomes for society.
Data privacy laws should put the responsibility on organisations to identify and mitigate risks while remaining flexible, technology- and sector-neutral and allowing data to move across borders easily.
“Without adhering to these guiding principles, there is a serious risk that laws will end up being too prescriptive and too rapidly outdated, while putting at risk the US$214 billion mobile economy Africa has the potential to reach by 2020,” he stated.