As the process of safeguarding personal data in accordance with legal principles has become more prominent across Africa, the International Bar Association (IBA) African Regional Forum has released a comprehensive guide on data protection and privacy laws for legal practitioners on the continent.

The IBA African Regional Forum Data Protection/Privacy Guide for Lawyers in Africa has been developed in the context of a newly implemented European Union data protection law, which sets out stringent rules for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the EU. Titled General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it has led to data controllers in Europe calling for their counterparts across Africa to implement similarly rigorous standards for the data processed on their behalf. Despite little or no guidance given to legal practitioners in Africa regarding compliance with these directives, Africa’s data protection regulators have echoed the call of their opposite numbers in Europe.

Pieter Steyn, the immediate past Co-Chair of the African Regional Forum, the Guide’s project lead and Director at Werksmans in South Africa, said: ‘The aim of the IBA African Regional Forum’s new guide is to provide vital support for practitioners navigating the complex and changing world of data protection law. Comprehensive and practical in design, the guide will aid lawyers in advising clients and ensuring compliance by their practices with the fast evolving and increasingly expansive areas of data protection and privacy laws’.

The new guide has drawn on international best practice guidelines and data laws already adopted in African nations and provides advice on how to manage personal data within a law firm, as well as easy-to-implement sustainable protocols and controls that adhere to privacy laws. Chapters include:

  • Data protection in Africa;
  • Data protection principles;
  • Common exemptions;
  • Individual rights;
  • Data controller/data processor obligations;
  • Regulator powers; and
  • How the GDPR affects your practice.

Babatunde Ademola Ajibade, SAN (Phd) FCIArb, Chair of the IBA African Regional Forum and Managing Partner at SPA Ajibade & Co in Nigeria, commented: ‘Data protection is of great importance to us all. There are many related rights for individuals, including the right to access, rectification and erasure, all of which must be safeguarded by individuals who have a firm understanding of their legal and moral obligation to ensure the necessity of protection. I am delighted that the IBA African Regional Forum is at the forefront of an initiative to provide guidance to lawyers and bar associations on the new data protection regimes across the continent and the importance of protecting personal data and privacy for individuals and business.



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