James Emejo in Abuja
The country’s continued delay to sign the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection framework currently puts it at the risk of economic isolation and may affect its chance of harnessing and maximising the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which it recently endorsed.
Also known as the Malabo Convention, the regulation, which had been established at the continental level, embodies the existing commitments of African Union (AU) that was formed in 2002 to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
The Executive Director, Africa International Trade and Commerce Research (AITCR), Mr. Sand Mba Kalu, told THISDAY, in an exclusive chat that the delay by Nigeria to endorse the convention puts it at, “greater risk of economic isolation and stagnation, because Nigeria will be outside the umbrella coverage of the African Union-wide cyber ethics and cross border data protection fundamental principles.”
He told THISDAY that it has become critical for the country to, “block all loopholes and avoid creating room for unnecessary bottlenecks that may affect us as a country when trading under AfCFTA, which will become effective from 1st July, 2020.”
“The Nigerian government should realise that we cannot achieve much by our current carefree attitude towards issues that brings Africa together, both at the regional and continental level.
“We in the private sector are suffering and losing resources because of this passive attitude of our government towards Africa.
“That has to change, we must realise that Nigeria is Africa and Africa is Nigeria- is for our national strategic interest to play an active role in the collective progress of Africa.”
According to him: “If we don’t sign, it would also create unnecessary technical and non-technical barriers for Nigerian businesses to trade across Africa under AfCFTA regime. Thereby negating the benefits of the free trade area agreement the president has recently signed.
“The good thing is that Nigeria already has a national policy on cybersecurity and personal data protection in place, which is one of the obligations required by member states.
“Nigeria is required to harmonise the national cybersecurity policy with the AU convention. I appeal to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign, ratify and deposit the AU convention on cybersecurity and personal data protection before trading starts on AfCFTA platform on the 1st of July 2020, this will boost and consolidate Nigerian position as the economic powerhouse of Africa.”
Essentially, the Convention was drafted in 2011 to establish a credible pan-African framework for cybersecurity through organisation of cross border electronic transactions, protection of personal data, and promotion of cyber security, e-governance and combating cybercrime.
The framework addresses three main areas including electronic transactions, personal data protection, cyber security and cybercrime- and had its adoption postponed by the AU on several occasions before finally adopting it in June 2014.
Kalu, added that the country would further be exposed to cross border cyber security threat, personal data theft, cyber terrorism, reduced foreign direct investment (FDI) in ICT infrastructure in key areas of cyber security, electronic commerce and, “the mechanism for combating intrusions into private life which is likely to generate cross border data rascality, processing, transmission, storage and use of personal data for cybercrime.”
According to him, the African Heads of States, had in January 2012, adopted the decision to establish a single continental market, which promises a collective economic development of Africa, an initiative which eventually crystalised to the signing of the AfCTA by 44 out of 55 member states of the AU on March 21, 2018.
He noted that the agreement was projected to bring together all African countries – comprising 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of over $3.4 trillion – under a single continental market for goods and services, including free movement of people and investments, and boost intra-African trade, according to agenda 2063 of the AU.
He said: “With the obligation required from member states you will realise that for Nigeria to maximize the opportunity that AfCFTA will bring, the federal government of Nigeria has to sign, ratify and domesticate the AU convention on Cyber Security and Personal data protection, which will by extension promote digital transformation, ease for cross border e-transactions, and establish a comprehensive approach to data privacy and protection.”
He said: “I am also worried that this will diminish Nigeria leadership role in things that has to do with the unity and integration of Africa.
“Nigeria should show learn to exhibit leadership the way the continent expects her instead of the reactive and passive role we are currently playing.
“Member States at sub-regional, regional and continental levels are consolidating their positions by building a network of collaboration for information society cyber security, and especially cybercrime, which is viewed as a growing concern in Africa.”
Afreximbank Offers $500m to Support Africa Creative Industry
The President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, at the weekend, announced a $500 million support for the production and trade of African cultural and creative products over the next two years.
Known as the Creative Africa Exchange Weekend (CAX WKND), which is Africa’s first continental event dedicated to promoting exchange within the creative and cultural industry, the initiative is expected to attract support for the African cultural and creative industry.
Oramah, told guests in Kigali, that the funds, which would build on what the Bank was already doing, would be accessible as lines of credit to banks, direct financing to operators and as guarantees.
He said the creative economy was increasingly recognised as a significant sector and meaningful contributor to Africa’s gross domestic product and that the cultural and creative industries catalysed economic growth by fostering more inclusive, connected and collaborative societies.
“Creative industries can be potent vehicles for more equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth strategies for African economies,” Oramah said.
He, however, noted that while Africa had a deep pool of talent, it lacked the infrastructure and capacity to commercialise its creative talent and reap the vast fortunes lying in wait.
“Because of underinvestment in the creative and cultural industries, Africa is largely absent in the global market of ideas, values and aesthetics as conveyed through music, theatre, literature, film and television.
“African countries import overwhelmingly more creative goods than they export or trade amongst themselves,” he added.
He commended Egypt’s, “astronomical growth in creative exports over the last decade” and the Nollywood industry’s increasing importance which had prompted the Nigerian government, in its Economic Recovery and Growth plan, to forecast export revenues of $1 billion from the industry by 2020.
Oramah, described the African market as the lowest hanging fruit for African creative products but noted that, until recently, “that market was fragmented and balkanised, such that a Senegalese knew more about creative products in France than in Ghana.”
“But today, change has come!” he said, adding that with the African continental free trade agreement in force and trading starting in July, Africa would begin to break down the borders and a single market for creative products would emerge.
The Managing Director of AITEO, Dr. Ramson Owan, stressed the need to focus on the commercial side of Africa’s creative talents and to begin to monetise them.
Minister of Youth and Culture of Rwanda, Rosemary Mbabazi, said the creative industry would enhance collaboration and cooperation among African countries.