Kenya needs a data protection framework with global standard to open new opportunities

By David Indeje / September 21, 2017

Kenya is not new to disruption when it comes to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) it is emerging as as a data hub in East Africa.

Ben Roberts, Liquid Telecom Chief Technology Information Officer says South Africa remains the biggest connectivity hub in Africa.

On the other hand, West Africa is poorly interconnected  and Nigeria is a large consumer  of capacity, but with poor local connectivity.

“Global data center traffic will nearly triple by 2018,” says Roberts.

Kenya plans to become Africa’s ICT hub. “If we have to be a hub for data, we need a data protection framework that has a global standard for Kenya to tap into more opportunities,” said Roberts at the sidelines of the Liquid Telecom and Microsoft Azure Accelerator Conference held at the Nairobi Garage.

“It (Kenya) need to have a good rule of law. We need to be certain that data is safe,” he added.

He also emphasised that the world has become competitive and there was need to have a data protection rule that keeps with the global pace. “We need to be the next place these companies come next.”

He was making the remark after Microsoft disclosed that they will be launching  Azure servers in Johannesburg and Cape Town during 2018.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says data protection is directly related to trade in goods and services in the digital economy.

Insufficient protection can create negative market effects by reducing consumer confidence, and overly stringent protection can unduly restrict businesses, with adverse economic effects as a result.

“Ensuring that laws consider the global nature and scope of their application, and foster compatibility with other frameworks, is of utmost importance for global trade flows that increasingly rely on the Internet,” reads part of the Data protection regulations and international data flows: Implications for trade and development.

“Without strong legislation, and policy, Kenya’s vision of being a global ICT leader will not be realised,” he underscored.

Kenya is yet to enact the Data Protection Bill 2013 which seeks to provide for protection of personal information and hereby give effect to the constitutional right of a person not to have information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed as enshrined in Article 31 of the Constitution of Kenya and Article 17 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights; which Kenya is among the more than 160 signatories.


Angela Ng’ang’a, Microsoft WECA Corporate Affairs in the Kenyan context, regulators are keen to ensure: cybersecurity – in relation to safeguarding electronic data, having an appropriate method of protection in place for application to the end user – and legal provisions  which will address cybersecurity laws and the critical infrastructure and cybercrime legislation.  

She further noted that issues around data protection include: adequate controls on how personal and sensitive information is used by companies,organisations and government among other legal provisions.

Ng’ang’a says  at Microsoft they are advocating for a much defined regulation from a digital transformational perspective that will allow other sub sectors benefit from cloud technology.

“Data protection and Privacy Bill is actually key as it gives the definition of what a data controller obligations are. It is important when you think what the ICT sector is,” she noted.

Other regulations that Kenya has proposed include: the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill (2016) the Cyber Security and Protection Bill (2016) the Critical Infrastructure Bill (2014) and proposed Cybersecurity Regulations.

Jonathan Walubengo,lecturer at Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT noted that the biggest impediment to the enactment of the regulations have to do with national security.

“Once it is in place the government will also benefit as it cuts both ways. The business group need to advocate for that.”

Rasto Kiplangat, Technical Director Mtom Systems limited has another view. “Kenya need to ensure there is consistent and reliable power supply and the critical infrastructure to tap into more opportunities.”

“For instance, Liquid Telecom operates two Tier 3-designed carrier-neutral data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town, but Microsoft Azure data centers are Tier 4. This means we are yet to have the infrastructure needed for them to invest here.”

About David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government, Health, and Gender Development stories are his passion. Follow on Twitter @David_Indeje David can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 / Email: [email protected]

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