LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA, KIGALI: Laws around regulation of data collected by mobile devices must strike a balance between enabling innovation and providing user privacy, a panel of experts agreed.
During a session on rules for a digital age, Safaricom director of corporate affairs Stephen Chege (pictured, second from left) said user data gathered by operators and mobile money companies was a “gold mine”. However, he added it was important to ensure information was kept to a “good standard” and appropriate practices were in place to avoid misuse.
“Africa is a mobile first continent,” Chege said. “We have 25 million active users in Kenya alone,” all that information must be kept secure.
Patrick Nyirishema, director general of the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (pictured, second from right), hailed the European Union’s GDPR regulation (implemented in May) as providing “the leadership” for others to follow.
Although privacy rules were important, he also acknowledged it was necessary to shape legislation to avoid hampering enterprise, moving away from “hard and fast rules” in favour of pro-innovation measures.
“We’re not saying you need to delete all the data you have,” Nyirishema added, predicting: “in the not too distant future we’ll have platforms where you can trade your data.”
Pointing to data rules currently being thrashed out by the Kenyan government, Cheng said his company had high standards in data collection and expected “legislation will allow us to unlock the gold mine that is data.”
Kenya Commercial Bank Group COO Samuel Makome (pictured, far right) offered the view from an industry almost completely based around data usage.
“We cannot operate any more without data,” Makome said. “Lending today is data driven and data analytics.” Though, he noted it was also heavily regulated by international know-your-customer regulation.
He added the biggest challenge brought about by this was in cybersecurity, with criminals using a range of tactics to extort money using this data.