11:00—12:15 PM

Data Localization: A “Tax” on the Poor


  • David Medine, Non-Resident Fellow, Center for Global Development (presenter)
  • Blaise Bayuo, Senior Fellow, ACET (discussant)
  • Faiza Seidu-Adam, Data Protection Supervisor, Ghana Link Network Service Ltd. (discussant)
  • Rob Floyd, Director for Innovation and Digital Policy at ACET (moderator)

Read a summary of this event from Charles Kenny.

In recent years, countries have imposed restrictions on the cross-border movement of data as a means of protecting privacy and encouraging the growth of domestic tech sectors. The impacts of such measures on consumers, particularly those living below the international poverty line, have garnered little attention, however. A recent CGD report by David Medine, Data Localization – A “Tax” on the Poor, explores this impact with a particular focus on the African continent. Given that Africa comprises 54 countries, cross-border data flows are critical to effective and efficient business and job creation, investment, innovation and the application of development solutions, and regional/sub-regional policymaking. For example, ACET is working on the potential for AI in economic policymaking, where data availability is a key binding constraint, particularly for regional policy challenges. At the same time, global data governance remains dominated by a few large economies, and this raises concerns around both equity and sovereignty.

This event in Accra, co-hosted by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) and CGD, gathered regional experts on technology and policy from government, industry, and civil society to both solicit reactions to the data localization paper and stimulate a broader conversation around global governance issues regarding data flows. 

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