The lack of international cooperation and coordination during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of African efforts to enhance resilience and agency in international relations. While the African Union (AU) continues to face challenges in achieving greater continental integration, it has embarked on several important measures, including efforts to reform the AU to make it fitter for purpose and more efficient. Some of these efforts include reforms aimed at reducing the AU's dependence on external donors and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), a flagship project of the AU's Agenda 2063.
African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)
When, in 1963, Kwame Nkrumah emphasised that Africans need to unite, he was vigorously reinforcing the pertinence of motioning the continent on the ideation of pan-Africanism, unity, and continental solidarity. There were evident implications of his rhetoric. The first is that the arbitrary borders of the continent could not continue to subsist. In his invocations, he insisted on the fact that it was pertinent to render 'existing boundaries obsolete and superfluous.' At the time this viewpoint was articulated, it met with wide agreement. Although certain leaders were persuaded that it was important to do away with the borders, others who had just gained independence from colonial powers emerged as nationalists and were determined to consolidate their victories at a national level, given that their people had fought hard to win independence from imperialism and colonial structures.
The African Union (AU) was built on these unresolved differences that persist to this day. The Constitutive Act of the African Union (Art. 3) assigns to the AU the responsibility to 'promote and defend common African positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples.' The AU Commission (AUC) Statutes assigned the task of 'drafting AU common positions and coordinating Member States’ actions in international negotiations' to a Secretariat that had no supranational mandate. The writing was on the wall.
Rules on cross-border data flows are no exception to this general trend. Moreover, given that the WTO rulebook was mostly written in the 1990s prior to the rise of the data driven economy, multilateral trade rules by and large do not regulate cross-border data flows, a fact which has contributed to rules on this front – demand for which has only increased as economies have become more data intensive – being set nationally and even sub-nationally, but also regionally, and in PTAs and FTAs. At the same time, trends such as the rise of what is often referred to as ‘surveillance capitalism’ has brought the issue of personal data protection on privacy grounds into sharper focus around the world. With this background context in place, this essay looks at the intersection of economic integration and personal data protection with a view to informing ongoing debates on what AfCFTA rules on cross-border data flows might look like.
The limit of cross border flow of personal data is broadly referred to as data localisation and is often justified based on five main concerns. These include the protection of personal data, access to data by local law enforcement, ensuring national security, advancing local economic competitiveness and levelling the regulatory playing field. However, a closer look at these justifications reveal the impact of data localisation on free trade, increase in transaction costs and the efficiency of corporations, stifling of innovation, and hampering of economic growth. With global data flows raising global GDP, it is necessary to ask, what policy trade-offs are necessary to balance the legitimate concerns of countries against the unintended consequences that the impact of data localisation causes? There are four issues relating to the economic impacts of data localisation that emerging regulation in Africa needs to address. These are data ownership and its value, competition, trade, and foreign direct investment.
This edited collection of 24 Africa experts with diverse academic and practice focused backgrounds is divided into 5 parts and 24 chapters. The focus of the book is to establish African Union (AU) law as a focal point for the development of African countries. It provides a rich vein of scholarly literature which might not always be apparent to international researchers and practitioners. The ambition is to use regional integration law as a springboard for legal and socio-economic growth by avoiding national law failures that have undermined the development of the African continent.
The News and Events published every week include conferences, major developments in the field of International Economic Law in Africa at the national, sub-regional and regional levels as well as relevant case law.
Electricity security is in today’s world a critical component for a well-functioning economy. Many African countries rely heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation, while others have successfully harnessed renewable energy sources – Kenya being an example, with over 80% of its power generation being from renewable energy sources. With the global push to de-carbonise national economies, particularly the power sector, the interdependence of countries through electricity trade will become increasingly important. Countries are now only looking to develop their own clean energy capacity, but will in future, also seek to harness that of neighouring countries through cross-border power trade.
Africa is by far the continent with the lowest carbon emissions, accounting for between 2% to 3% of global CO2 emissions (with South Africa accounting for about 33% of all CO2 emissions in Sub-Sahara Africa). However, with the prospects of increased intra-Africa trade as a consequence of the ambitions of African states under the African Continental Free Trade Area ("AfCFTA") it is inevitable for CO2 emissions to increase with the expanded use of fossil fuels (petroleum products, gas and coal) in prospective industries who intend to tap into the opportunities that the AfCFTA presents. In addition, the prospects of increased trade between Africa states and other strategic trading partners such as the United States, the European Union and China will also contribute to Africa's pie of CO2 emission to increase gradually overtime. As for the rest of the world, the commitment to decarbonization the global economy has become even much strong pursuant to the release of report titled 'Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis' dated August 2021 by the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change ("ICCC Report"). The ICCC Report has set-off the alarm bells that it may already be too late to meet the CO2 emissions target and has re-emphasized the need for accelerated investment in clean energy technologies and has now largely solidified the significant role green hydrogen can play as part of the energy transition from fossil fuels (petroleum products etc) to meet the global target of reducing CO2 emissions to about 1.5 degrees Celsius.