The unrestricted movement of data is a key enabler of the digital economy. However, the development of data protection and data localisation policies is becoming one major area of concern for international trade and investment. Among the mechanisms for protecting individuals is data localisation. This requires that data or a copy thereof (both personal and non-personal) should only be stored and processed locally and should not be exported for processing. The import of this, for instance, is that all data generated within Nigeria must be confined to the boundaries of Nigeria, effectively restricting the flow of data. While localisation of data has significant economic and social benefits, it is also associated with several unintended (negative) consequences, especially from an economic perspective. This is especially true for developing countries like Nigeria that is moving towards greater data localisation with several policies skewed in that direction. This contribution briefly examines the implications of Nigeria’s increasing move towards data localisation on its regional obligations for the promotion of free trade in Africa.
A holistic and collaborative approach to data protection and inclusive economic growth is capable of spurring sustainable development, and reducing new patterns of inequalities occurring within South Africa and between South Africa and other nations in the context of the digital economy.
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Noting the challenges in implementation of commitments under this Agreement by developing and least developed countries, I argue that there is potential for Customs administrations to act as conduits for WTO TFA implementation through their reform and modernisation initiatives. To demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, I highlight the achievements realised through Customs reforms and modernisation by Lesotho in the area of trade facilitation.
A response to informality includes the suggestion that policy makers should formalize informal entities and activities. This suggestion holds that, responding to informality in such a way will ultimately help create better jobs, improve productivity and reduce poverty. But then, the question again arises at this point: is formalization the optimal solution? Shouldn’t the focus in the short-term rather be to improve conditions for informal sector actors and the spaces in which they operate than formalize? These are some of the broad challenges facing Africa, the AU and the governments of respective member states and other stakeholders as Africa proceeds with the AfCFTA.