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AFRICA LAW TECH FESTIVAL 2023

“Igniting the Acceleration of an Africa Continental Free Trade for a Single Digital Market”

By

Njoki Kimemia, Legal and Data Protection Associate, South-End Tech Limited

Dated: July 13, 2023

I, on behalf of South-End Tech Limited, was thrilled to have recently participated in the Lawyers Hub Africa Tech Festival 2023, a dynamic event that focused on accelerating an Africa Continent Free Trade Area for a single digital market. The festival brought together legal students and professionals, tech enthusiasts, policymakers, and industry leaders, creating a vibrant platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

The theme of the festival, “Accelerating an Africa Continent Free Trade Area for a Single Digital Market,” resonated deeply with the transformative potential of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It highlighted the role of technology, digital inclusivity, and legal frameworks in unlocking the full benefits of this historic initiative.

The AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. It is a high-ambition trade agreement, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy, such as digital trade and investment protection, amongst other areas. By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy.

Throughout the event, we explored various aspects critical to the success of a single digital market, including:

  1. Bridging the Digital Divide

Africa’s digital divide remains a significant challenge in achieving digital inclusivity. Addressing this divide involves providing equal access to digital technologies, such as internet connectivity and affordable smartphones. Governments, private organizations, and international bodies should collaborate to invest in infrastructure development, improve broadband penetration, and promote digital literacy programs. By bridging the digital divide, more Africans can actively participate in the digital economy and reap the benefits of the AfCFTA.

  • Cybersecurity for Trade Facilitation

As the AfCFTA promotes cross-border trade, cybersecurity becomes paramount to protect businesses, individuals, and sensitive data from cyber threats. Collaborative efforts must be made to establish robust cybersecurity frameworks at the regional and national levels. This includes implementing secure digital payment systems, educating businesses about cyber risks, and creating dedicated cybersecurity agencies. By prioritizing cybersecurity, trust in digital transactions will be strengthened, facilitating smooth trade operations across the continent.

  • Safeguarding Data Protection

Data protection is a critical component of digital inclusivity, as it ensures individuals’ privacy and secures sensitive business information. African countries should adopt comprehensive data protection laws and regulations that align with international standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These laws should cover aspects such as data collection, storage, sharing, and consent. Organizations should also be held accountable for data breaches, fostering a culture of trust and transparency.

  • Legal Frameworks

The Africa Law-Tech Festival 2023 provided a platform for legal professionals to discuss and develop legal frameworks that will support the AfCFTA’s goals. Participants explored the harmonization of legal systems, resolution of cross-border disputes, intellectual property rights protection, and the promotion of fair competition within the single digital market.

  • Conclusion

As we reflect on the Lawyers Hub Africa Tech Festival 2023, it is evident that Africa is poised for significant progress in creating a single digital market. The enthusiasm, insights, and collaborations that emerged during the event reaffirm our commitment to driving the continent’s digital transformation.

Moving forward, we must sustain the momentum generated by the festival. Governments, private sector entities, and civil society must work together to create an enabling environment for the growth of digital technologies and entrepreneurship. This includes investing in digital infrastructure, supporting startups and innovation hubs, and fostering an ecosystem that encourages cross-border trade and collaboration.

I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead as we accelerate the Africa Continental Free Trade Area for a single digital market. By embracing technology, nurturing digital inclusivity, and reinforcing robust legal frameworks, we can unlock Africa’s vast potential and create a thriving digital economy that benefits all Africans.

Let us continue the conversation and collaboration as we shape the future of Africa’s digital transformation together!

For any questions or concerns regarding this engagement, please do not hesitate to contact us on the telephone at +254115867309 +254721864169; +254115867309; or by email: info@southendtech.co.ke or nkimemia@southendtech.co.ke

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