The Datasphere Initiative Africa Forum on Sandboxes for Data is building a pan-African community to enable innovative cross-border data governance solutions. The multistakeholder process invites local, regional, and global experts to explore the ways in which regulatory and operational sandboxes could facilitate responsible data flows and exchange.
In October 2023, the Datasphere Initiative held initial meetings to kick-start the three sectoral working groups, which have been tasked with exploring the potential of sandboxes to address policy and technical challenges in the areas of finance, health, and artificial intelligence in Africa.
Sandboxes can help bridge the gap between stakeholders and sectors by creating collaborative environments to experiment with new uses, capabilities, and means of governing data against concrete challenges through a multistakeholder approach. However, while the use of sandboxes has been spreading in Africa, capacity building, sharing of good practices, and active testing are still needed in order to meet its full potential to address data issues across borders in the continent.
Each working group convenes experts and practitioners from across the continent to design a pilot sandbox to tackle a sectoral issue that has been identified by regional partners and communities:
- The Health working group will explore how health-tech innovation and interoperability can be supported while ensuring data protection in healthcare.
- The Finance working group will seek to identify policy obstacles faced by African fintech innovators, and how sandbox approaches could enable an interoperable pan-African financial ecosystem.
- The AI working group will explore how to leverage AI tools and applications to inform fiscal and monetary policymaking in Africa.
Working groups will meet periodically until March 2024 to develop concrete proposals for the piloting of sandboxes in these areas. Each working group is co-chaired by a local partner. The Finance, Health, and AI working groups are supported by the African Development Bank, HealthTech Hub Africa, and the African Center for Economic Transformation respectively.
“The Africa Forum on Sandboxes for Data is already showing significant promise from the strong cross-stakeholder coalitions that we’ve brought together in these working groups. Over the next few months, as we drill deeper into these key growth areas for trusted data sharing, we will learn increasingly more about the intricacies of the challenges being faced in this space in Africa. The proposals advanced at the end of the working group process will be compelling, and with the support of the right implementing partners, address long-standing pain points in our sectors of focus,” said Justin Bryant, Lead, Global Sandboxes for Data.