Africa in the Information Age: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies for Data Protection and Digital Rights


This Note argues that the contemporary data protection landscape on the African continent must be tailored to better address the needs of young, vibrant, entrepreneurial societies and resonate with the values therein. Toward this end, this Note issues recommendations aimed at creating effective legal and extralegal enforcement mechanisms. The implementation of these recommendations stands to position the continent well in the years to come and amplify the voices of African nations in the evolving global dialogue. Brief case studies from six countries are used to highlight the divergent development of data protection laws across the continent while simultaneously underscoring how common predomnant influences—including past and present vestiges of colonialism—have left Africa short of effectiveness on this front. Following this is an analysis of the diverse obstacles faced by the public sector and the private sector. Then, a comparative law theory known as the “transplant effect” is introduced to explain impediments observed in the proliferation of data protection laws. Africa’s place in global geopolitics is then highlighted, and the ways in which international players are exploiting Africa from a data privacy standpoint are addressed. Strategies for stakeholders to address threats while maximizing growth opportunities, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, are evaluated in context. Emphasis is placed on targeted action at the multinational, national, and local levels in order for societies to realize robust and comprehensive ecosystems that safeguard human rights and promote dignity in the digital space.


Stanford University Stanford, California
  • 24 STAN. TECH. L. REV. 389 (2021)
Related Organization(s):