To spur the development and implementation of innovative data governance frameworks across borders in Africa, the Datasphere Initiative is launching a region-wide effort to build an Africa Forum on Sandboxes for Data.
As data increasingly underpins most human activities and policy domains, it has become evident that how we choose to govern it collectively will be key to shaping our digital future and our capacity to address pressing global challenges.
Agenda 2063, the Digital Transformation Strategy (DTSA), and the Data Policy Framework declare that all Africans should have the opportunity to be included in the digital economy and benefit from datafication. As Africa transitions to a single digital market under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), policies and regulations that responsibly enable cross-border data flows are central to extending the scale and scope of value creation.
Set to be launched in 2023, with identified partners such as William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Africa Forum on Sandboxes for Data will build a pan-African community to enable innovative cross-border data governance solutions. The multistakeholder process will invite local, regional, and global experts to explore the ways in which regulatory and operational sandboxes could facilitate responsible data flows and exchange.
“The Africa Forum on Sandboxes for Data will provide an inclusive space to build new and agile frameworks to responsibly unlock the value of data for all in Africa” said Martin Hullin, Deputy Executive Director, Datasphere Initiative.
The Forum will leverage the know-how and community of regional policymakers curated through the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network’s, Cross-border Digital Policies for Africa Project which led a mapping of data policy approaches across the continent. Self-paced learning modules & certification will be developed to equip policymakers and in particular Parliamentarians on data policy issues.
The Forum will also serve as a living network of African stakeholders and a platform that brings local, regional, and global experts together to enable peer-to-peer learning. The work will build on the insights from the Datasphere Initiatives report on Sandboxes for Data which was supported by the Government of the United Kingdom in June 2022. Operational or regulatory sandboxes can provide new ways to support data exchange and help foster collaborative processes and evaluate regulatory frameworks. The Forum will explore the potential of these in different sectors and identify opportunities for test cases and applications.
“We are excited to see the Datasphere Initiative launch this important effort to connect a range of key stakeholders across Africa to innovate and enable responsible data-sharing” said Chris Maloney, a Program Officer, with the Evidence-Informed Policymaking portfolio at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.