Abstract: Over the past few decades, the nature of agricultural activity has been transformed by the development of digital technology, along with the creation of data protection rights in intellectual property agreements. While the potential of data and digital technologies to help Africa overcome food insecurity and poverty, and the importance of female small-scale farmers (FSF) in improving food security in Africa are generally acknowledged, the legal and policy framework necessary for enhancing the use of digital technology by Africa’s FSF remains relatively unknown. This paper helps to fill in the gap by examining the issues that affect the ability of African women to utilize digital technology for better agricultural productivity and how these are influenced by data protection regulations.
The paper highlights the need for an integrated approach to data regulation, that involves providing specific provisions for enhancing gender equality and inclusiveness for females, as key to closing the gender gap to accessing digitalization by female smallholder farmers in Africa. Further, by reviewing examples of best practices and policies of countries that have provisions for inclusivity in current data protection laws, the paper proposes a template for how the ‘inclusivity’ principle can be applied in designing data protection systems laws and policies that are suitable for advancing productivity by female smallholder farmers in Africa. Analysis is made of four issues: I. The Relationship between Data Protection, Precision farming and Female Smallholder Farmers in Africa; II. The Forms of Data Generated by Female Smallholder Farmers in Africa; III. Challenges in Data Protection Rules Inhibiting Utilization of Agricultural Data Technology by Africa’s Female Smallholder Farmers; and IV. Recommendations for Integrating Africa’s FSF’s Needs within Data Protection Regulations.
Cite as: Uchenna Felicia Ugwu, Advancing the Use of Digital Technology by Africa’s Female Farmers: Shortcomings in Data Protection Regulations, Volume 2, AfJIEL, (2021), 11-31.