ECOWAS moves to harmonise cyberlaws for e-Commerce
To facilitate trade and E-commerce in the West African sub-region, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and member countries of ECOWAS have commenced plans to harmonise cyberlaws in the region.
According to UNCTAD, ECOWAS countries are at different phases in implementing electronic transactions and such transactions need to be safeguarded by creating an enabling legal environment to reap benefits from information and communications technologies (ICTs).
The agency in a statement at the end of a workshop on cyberlaw harmonization, emphasized the need for policy makers, regulatory authorities and other such players responsible to drive the sustainable development of the sector to adopt common principles and approaches to achieve this objective.
Indeed, the stakeholders identified the need for stakeholders across the region to ensure the harmonization of cyber law across member states noting that there are implications for effective governance as cyber crimes knows no boundary.
“To address cyberlaws challenges, suggestions included securing high-level commitment of the government to push for legal reform, the creation of an intergovernmental committee on cyberlaws, as ICTs involve many cross-cutting issues, the involvement of relevant stakeholders, the use of awareness campaigns, once laws are adopted, to sensitize the citizens, the judiciary, enterprises, among others.
“Participants identified a need for increased support to countries that have not yet transposed regional legislation into their national laws. Currently, out the fifteen ECOWAS countries that were present, seven have specific laws on e-transactions while six have draft laws; seven have data protection laws and another seven have draft legislation; and four have adapted their legislation to cybercrime and six have draft laws.
Some have not been able to advance due to lack of resources and capacity”, the statement read in part. To make the harmonization a reality, the stakeholders proposed the ratification of the Convention on Cybersecurity and the Protection of Personal Data of the African Union; the development of region-wide legislation on consumer protection, taxation and cross-border e-payments.
Furthermore, there were emphasis on the development of an appropriate regulatory framework for electronic signature and electronic certification; the establishment of domain names regulation to promote e-commerce for the benefit of ECOWAS countries and the need to set up of a regional certification authority, with adequate resources.
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