IGF 2023 WS #507 Cross-border flows: the Future of Data Markets in Africa?


Data Governance & Trust
Cross-border Data Flows and Trust

Organizer 1: Karen Bett, GPSDD
Organizer 2: Bernard Njiru, GIZ
Organizer 3: Jenna Slotin, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

Speaker 1: Justin Bryant, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Timcke Scott, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Martina Karaparusheva, Government, Intergovernmental Organization


Bernard Njiru, Government, African Group

Online Moderator

Jenna Slotin, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Karen Bett, Civil Society, African Group


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the key priorities and opportunities to strengthen data infrastructure to enable cross-border data flows in the continent?
2. What do effective data governance frameworks for cross-border data flows look like? How to ensure they are participatory, transparent, and sustainable?
3. We talk about data and digital literacy a lot. What stops the continent from progressing in this area, particularly in catalyzing cross-border data transfers?

What will participants gain from attending this session? By attending this session, participants will contribute to a rich discussion on strengthening cross-border data flows in the continent. It will allow stakeholders to explore challenges limiting cross-border data flows in the continent and discuss practical examples to take the agenda forward. We hope participants will leave this session with a more objective understanding of the topic. As organizers, we hope to also gain from the knowledge and skills of the participants to help us shape our work on this topic. As such, the session will benefit the participants and the organizers.


Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a significant increase in digital connectivity and data generation, presenting new opportunities for innovation and social development. As the region continues to embrace digital technologies, it is crucial to explore the future of data markets and their potential impact on various sectors.
Cross-border data flows play a crucial role in the future of data markets globally and in Africa. Many African countries increasingly recognize the importance of data as a key driver of economic growth. Despite this, Africa is yet to realize the benefits of data markets for its growing economies.
Several challenges continue to impede the realization of this goal. First, is the inadequate data infrastructure including high-speed internet connectivity, data storage facilities, and data centers which limit the ability of businesses to collect, process, and analyze data effectively and this make cross-border data flows more challenging. Secondly, different data protection laws and regulations make it difficult for businesses to operate across African markets. Lastly, the continent requires additional data and digital literacy and skills to allow businesses to use data to make informed decisions and generate insights.
The panel will explore future trends and challenges and analyze the opportunities related to data markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. This will identify strategies for leveraging data to drive economic growth, promote sustainable development, and address societal challenges in the region.

Expected Outcomes

We plan to take forward the key messages from this session through joint projects and a joint blog.
This session will contribute to the Global Partnership's work on accountable data governance, which is focused, in part, on strengthening public sector officials' data governance and management skills. The discussion during the session will feed into capacity development offerings for public sector officials on cross-border data flows. https://www.data4sdgs.org/governing-data-benefit-people-decision-making…
This session will contribute to GIZ’s work on the Data Economy Flagship program that promotes the development of a data-driven economy by advancing the implementation of data regulation and testing the sharing of data to drive local innovation to support local value creation. The project has three objectives: Foster local data-driven solutions with local partners, Strengthen data capacities of local stakeholders, Develop and support the implementation of a data regulatory framework in Africa. https://www.bmz-digital.global/en/overview-of-initiatives/data-economy/

Hybrid Format: To make this session interactive, we will have some thought-provoking polls at the beginning (to help our speakers better understand the audience and get a pulse of participants' expectations), during (to keep the audience engaged), and at the end of the session (to measure satisfaction and address any outstanding questions). We will encourage speakers to come up with practical examples and contribute in a conversational way to build on each other's contributions. We will dedicate adequate time for the question and answer session, as we know that events often run out of time and rush through the Q&A. We will encourage participants to ask questions anytime and encourage speakers to respond to the questions as they flow in. To make this session accessible, we will allow speakers to have very brief PowerPoint presentations(if need be). We will explore ways to run this session in English and French/Spanish.