The data and information that initially informed the foundation of this needs assessment was sourced from an analysis of CIPIT’s ICT Policy Database. The Africa ICT Policy Database is an online database of ICT policy data spanning the African continent, built around the principle of access to legal information as a central requirement for citizen participation in public policy processes. The following steps were undertaken in the development of this needs assessment:
- www.ictpolicy.org analysis
- Online research
CIPIT’s first step was to analyse the information currently held in this repository. Subsequently, given the CYRILLA mandate, expand on the information currently held in the ICTPolicy.org website and facilitate coordination and interoperability with CYRILLA partners repository’s using the agreed upon data model and taxonomy framework. The analysis allowed the researchers to identify gaps that existed on the current database. It involved the creation of a catalogue of all the current data held on the ICT policy database including laws that deal with; e-commerce, cybersecurity, data processing, intellectual property, freedom of information and telecommunication within Sub Sahara Africa.
Having identified the gaps that exist on the ICT policy website, including any dated information, the second step involved undertaking research (primarily online) for this missing data. This consisted of reviewing:
- any and all country government/court websites, for legislation, regulations, policy and white papers e.g.:
- state corporations
- law reform commissions
- government legal websites like Attorney- General’s Departments’
- academic institution websites e.g. the University of Capetown’s Africanlii.org website
- searching for relevant news articles that document the progress of bills and prospective laws
- International and regional organizations websites focused on like data e.g. utilizing the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development database of legislation on Data Protection, Cyber Security and Electronic Transactions.
- Think Tanks and non –governmental organizations that advocate for digital rights
A key deliverable for this needs assessment is for CIPIT to map actors in the field and linkages between those actors and elucidate future plans (within 5 years) for enhancing access to legal information in the ICT sector. With these findings, CIPIT will produce an Africa ICT Policy Manual, an accompanying resource to the database that will provide:
- national points of contact for relevant updates on ICT legal data, such as newly published laws;
- an open format for publishing of ICT legal data; and,
- information on the specific technical capacity required to make data collected in this open format standard interoperable with other, similar datasets and databases.
In addition to the above, CIPIT aims to gradually expand the core practitioner community in sub-Saharan Africa specifically focusing on engaging emerging digital rights law and data initiatives within the sub-Saharan Africa.
Therefore, identifying relevant actors/contacts forms an integral part of the research activities carried out in developing this needs assessment. The researchers reviewed and continue to identify contact persons and actors in each country/region who may assist in the realization of the aforementioned objectives.
In addition, these contact persons are critical because they help CIPIT in obtaining information that would help address the gaps identified; especially in situations where the relevant information can’t be found through CIPIT’s own research efforts online (which is a challenge identified later in this document). The contact persons ideally will also notify CIPIT on any legal developments which would help the database to be accurate and up to date.
These actors are the contact points that will be used to operationalize the data taxonomy framework to influence national, regional and global policy outcomes through ongoing expansion of existing datasets and localized applied research efforts. The data taxonomy framework can only be operationalized if it is put in use at the national, regional and global level and this will be made possible by identifying actors and contact persons who would be able to implement this data taxonomy.