Data Research Center

In recent years, there has been an explosion of digital solutions offered by businesses as well as an uptick in the uptake of digital platforms by Governments in serving their citizens in the East African region. Along with this has come new legislation to govern this digital sphere. There is definitely a need for independent actors in this landscape that will serve the various sectors in numerous capacities to ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld, the spirit of the legislation is met while also ensuring that innovation is not stifled. The Data Policy Centre (DPC) seeks to serve in this capacity.

The long term goal of the DPC is contribute to the body of evidence available for those influencing policy in the areas of data protection, data bias, open data, and other issues pertaining to data governance with a focus on issues relevant to the Global South. All research objectives and outcomes of the center are designed are fact-based and politically – neutral. DPC aims to add evidence and impartial analysis to the ongoing local, national, and continent-level debates around data. The center is currently focused on issues of Data Protection and Privacy, specifically, on issues of implementation and enforcement of data protection laws within the region, in addition to commenting of the framing of data protection regulations.

Research on the Data Governance Structures of AI Across Africa.

The fast developing AI ecosystem in Africa promises to address the challenges on the continent by, in part, driving growth and development in the key sectors of agriculture, healthcare, public service and financial services. Data is at the core of the development and use of AI technologies.

Data governance (DG) is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data based on data standards and policies that also control data usage.” 1 DG is the foundation of trustworthy AI as its development and use relies solely on data input. DG structures serve to prevent the misuse and or exploitation of data and play a significant role in the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects.

Developments in AI in Africa are predominantly driven by the private sector. There is growing interest from African governments in engendering strategies to govern AI locally, regionally, and across the continent.

Some African countries (22 out of the 54) have enacted of data protection legislation. National and regional data governance frameworks, e.g., the Supplementary Act on Personal Data Protection adopted by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), the SADC Model Law on Data Protection developed by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in 2010 and adopted in 2013, the EAC Framework on Cyber Laws adopted by the East African Community (EAC), and the AU laws on data protection have played a big role in the creation of data governance structures within the continent. There is, however, as yet, no legislation specific to the regulation of AI on the continent.

Legislation will influence and impact development, adoption and growth of AI technologies in Africa. We seek to understand policies relating to data governance specific to AI on the continent; recommend policies to local, regional and global that will allow for equitable data practices, and the evolution of data practices in relation to AI technologies in both the private and public sectors.

1 Craig Stedman, Jack Vaughan , ‘What is Data Governance and Why does it Matter?’ (Tech Target , February 2020) <>