Curtailing State Extremism in Data Governance: African Context

This brief examines the implications of emerging threats to good data governance in Africa, as it relates to restrictive data policies and abuse of state power. Based on our analysis of data regulations/policy documents, studies by industry experts, and consultative workshop with stakeholders, we identify three major examples of these threats - increased cases of government imposed restrictions on online freedoms, mass surveillance of citizens and data protectionism. While the justification often given for these measures is national security, there are often other underlying motivations that negate the principles of an effective and transparent data governance strategy. The negative impacts of these emerging trends range from human/digital rights violations, huge economic losses, among others. To address this problem, a holistic and systems thinking approach is required, as there is a need to ensure adequate checks and balances for increased transparency, accountability and independent oversight.