SADC Model Law on Digital Economy

The Southern African Development Community(SADC) Parliamentary Forum is in the process of developing a model Law on digital economy to pave the way for the upscaling of digital practices and increase women’s participation in the sector at national level. Additional objectives of the Model Law are to enable the countries to harness the benefits of the digital economy, while safeguarding the rights of citizens and mitigating possible risks associated with such developments

In support of SADC’s goal of developing a Model Law, Research ICT Africa recently concluded work on a discussion paper and a draft policy framework. The purpose of the framework is to provide a foundation for developing laws, legislation, and regulations for the digital economy in Southern Africa. The framework touches on several areas that need regulating and re-regulating, particularly competition law.

Proposed recommendations for incorporation in the draft SADC Digital Economy Governance Framework include:

  • Competition law frameworks and regulations must allow an autonomous authority to analyse data competition challenges, create remedies, and enforce their powers to protect competition in data-driven marketplaces. Competition regulators must also be able to implement these rules.
  • Laws must ensure that the competition authority has the power to regulate cross-border data, make inquiries into continental and regional effects, and cooperate with other competition regulators.
  • Legal interventions must grant competitors access to the critical infrastructure in order to open up competition.

Laws should empower authorities regulating digital networks, and competition, to order specific private operators to facilitate interoperability when doing so is necessary for competition, accountability and scrutiny by standards bodies and public authorities.

  • Laws should prioritise transparency for dominant platforms to discourage unfair practices, ensure contestability, and to reduce the asymmetry of information and bargaining power between the dominant platforms and the users.

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