• May 27, 2024
  • Last Update May 26, 2024 7:22 PM
  • Nairobi

Internet – a powerful engine of economic growth and foster trade

Internet – a powerful engine of economic growth and foster trade


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

KNA Wangari Ndirangu

Digital trade is now a mainstay feature of our modern world and today’s digital economy and data cannot be constrained by national boundaries, Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Eng. John Tanui, has said.

The Internet, he added is a powerful engine of economic growth that has fostered competitive trade markets, enabling companies of all sizes and in all sectors to compete in a global marketplace free from geographic limitations.Making his remarks on Navigating.

The Global Data Privacy Landscape And Promoting Data Flows during the Network Of Africa Data Protection Authorities (NADPA) Conference, today, Eng. Tanui said that it is not only large enterprises that benefit from digital trade.

“A global study found that small and medium-sized companies that rely heavily on Internet services typically have 22 percent greater revenue growth than those that use the Internet minimally”, he said.

“Small and medium-size businesses are able to connect with billions of potential customers around the world, competing on the quality of products rather than location,” the PS said noting that free flow of data is also critical to traditional businesses such as manufacturers, health care providers, educators, and financial institutions.

He noted that Kenya hosting the 2024 conference and bringing a membership of 22 countries plus seven other countries to have conversation about data privacy and data protection is special for not only the country but the continent.

“We are very keen to ensure that some of the global key issues affecting digital economy are discussed here. We are looking at how do we ensure that businesses can exchange data easily. How can we facilitate digital trade in the continent? How can we work with also the other continents like the US and the rest of the world?” he said.

He noted that the government recognizes the need to leverage technology for the social-economic development of the nation despite an increasing volume and complexity of data being exchanged across borders.

“Concerns about data privacy and security have rightfully come to the forefront. As stewards of our citizens’ digital rights, it is incumbent upon us to strike a delicate balance between facilitating the flow of data for economic growth and ensuring robust safeguards to protect individuals’ privacy,” the PS said.

Eng. Tanui added that there is need to forge partnerships with like-minded countries and organizations to promote cross-border data flows while upholding high standards of data protection.

This , he said will include 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.

He however said that in addressing cross-border Data transfer both data localization requirements and privacy regulations must be considered and it is therefore imperative that governments work together to understand the underlying interests when developing solutions to ensure that local privacy regimes do not unnecessarily restrict trade.

“I want to dispel some prevalent myths surrounding cross-border data transfers that this panel should aim to address. In a world increasingly connected by data, it’s crucial to understand the implications of policies that seek to localize data within national borders.

The PS said that it is a myth that localization of data centers will create jobs and enhance security, noting that the reality is that jobs are created by businesses leveraging a global network of data centers, focusing on efficiency rather than geographical location.

Data Commissioner, Immaculate Kasait, said that the Conference aims at facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experiences among African data protection authorities in order to strengthen the implementation of robust data protection frameworks.

“The Conference will provide a platform for capacity building and showcase best practices in data governance on emerging technologies and initiatives.

In terms of cross border data exchange with the EU and Africa, Kasait said that Kenya is currently in conversation with the EU, noting that the Country’s framework is robust in terms of attracting investment and being one of perhaps the best in terms of data protection.

“Africa is growing and when you look at the growth in Africa, when we have free data flows, the market is enormous and job opportunities for the youth will be meaningful in what we call business process outsourcing and we are looking at jobs in hundreds.

She, however, noted that what is important and the reason around frameworks and making sure we are harmonizing them in Africa is to make sure that flow data can move from here, can go to Niger, it can go to Angola, it can go to Gambia, without any restrictions.

“It will just be like working into what we have in East Africa. You only need your ID to move to Uganda, to move to Tanzania, to move to Congo. That is what data flows means. A success in free data flows in Africa, means that we can transact online and increase e-commerce,” Kasait said.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, is mandated to promote International Cooperation in matters relating to Data Protection and ensure compliance on Data Protection obligations under international conventions and agreements.

Kenya through this Office applied and joined the Network of Data Protection Authorities (NADPA/RAPDP) in May 2021, with the aim being to promote co-operation among African countries on matters relating to Personal Data Protection.

Courtesy; KNA

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