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National Data and Cloud Policy on Track

June 21, 2021

Department of Communications and Digital Technologies

The communications and digital technologies department has received over 17 000 submissions on the Draft National Data and Cloud Policy.

The communications and digital technologies minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, revealed this during an address at the Data and Cloud Policy Virtual Colloquium.

The minister confirmed that the department is currently reviewing and analyzing the submissions.

The department published the draft policy in Government Gazette 44411 for comment on 1 April 2021.

The draft policy is designed to ensure informed policy development based on data analytics and promote South Africa’s data sovereignty and security.

It was drafted in terms of the Electronic Communications Act.

The draft policy also aims to enable South Africans to realise the socio-economic value of data through the alignment of existing policies, legislation and regulations.

It also seeks to put in place a conducive and enabling environment for the data ecosystem to thrive.

Objectives include promoting connectivity and access to data and cloud services; removing regulatory barriers and enabling competition; ensuring implementation of effective cybersecurity privacy and data and cloud infrastructure protection measures; putting institutional mechanisms in place for the governance of data and cloud services; supporting the development of small, medium, and micro enterprises and providing for research, innovation, and human capital development.

The draft policy points out that, in order to unlock the value of data, there are “key policy issues that need to be addressed such as increasing the pool of collectable data, enhancing data analytic capacities, and promoting responsible decision making for growth and well-being”.

Policy issues include digital infrastructure; access to data and cloud services; data protection; cybersecurity measures; governance and institutional mechanisms; competition; skills and capacity development and research, innovation and related human capital development.

The comment period was extended in May 2021.

The minister highlighted issues raised in the submissions including the proposal to establish a High-Performance Computing Data Processing Centre, open data strategy, localization and cross-border data flows and competition.
The minister emphasized that the draft policy is about “reinforcing the acceleration of the rollout of digital infrastructure to reinforce a connected society”.

“It is also about the storage and, processing and digitization of government data to create access for citizens, emerging businesses, government and even the private sector”, she added.

The draft policy also focuses on data security and protection and aims to reinforce cybersecurity protection of personal information.

As regards data localisation, the minister pointed out that government insists that “Critical Information Infrastructure data (all ICT systems, data systems, data bases, networks (including people, buildings, facilities and processes), that are fundamental to the effective operation of the Republic) be stored within the borders of South Africa”.