By Lolyne Ongeri and Selina Onyando
The Africa law tech Conference was held on day four and five of the festival at the Radisson Blu hotel in Upperhill Nairobi. It brought together, lawyers, thought leaders and tech gurus from the government and private sector. One of the lessons we learned at the Conference was coming up with a policy co-creation brief that focused on the law tech landscape. It was very interesting to see how ideas from different people came to life.
For this exercise, we were divided into four groups tasked to tackle the following topics.
- Taxing the digital economy
- Digital Identity and Data Governance
- Migration Policies
- Artificial Intelligence
This is what the groups found:
Taxing the Digital Economy
The digital economy in the African context has not been defined as there was a lack of substantive data. It was also found out that taxing based on permanent establishments was not an effective taxation basis as many big data firms did not have a local presence. As a result, big data firms shifted their profits to low tax havens leading to revenue loss. The team called for a rethink on the definitions of the digital economy to avoid big data firms using low tax jurisdictions as tax havens. They also recommended capacity building for tax admins for them to understand the online business models and tax incentives for SMEs in e-commerce.
Digital Identity and Data Governance
Teams were well represented with countries with digital identity systems in the room, Nigeria and Kenya. Some of the main concerns presented were on the technical requirements of the digital identity systems, the data privacy implications, the inclusivity of these systems and the low levels of literacy around data privacy and governance.
The team recognised the opportunities that free movement of goods and services across the continent would present. These included access to better services, enhancement of skills and investment opportunities. For this to be realised, there is a need for the development of policy addressing issues such as lack of trust amongst governments and citizens of different countries and tedious visa processes.
The AI team found that there was a legislative gap on areas surrounding AI. They also noted that literacy rates on the technology were low across the continent. Although Artificial intelligence presented its fair share of challenges, they found the benefits of incorporating machine learning into everyday life. This included areas such as better surveillance which showed to reduce crime rates. As a result, there was improved service delivery, therefore, enhancing the quality of life of many minority individuals across the continent.
Day five saw us tackle the future of technology in law. Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Noordin Haji recognized the importance of technology in economic and social development. He said that technology is s great tool in creating justice to all, only if used responsibly. Mr Irungu Houghton from Amnesty Kenya emphasised on the importance of data protection, data privacy and democratic participation. James Wamathai from Bloggers Association of Kenya spoke on strategic litigation and the steps that BAKE has taken in ensuring the constitution, more so the freedom of expression and media is upheld.
As the Law tech festival grew to a close, it was noted that it is important to simplify the issue of digital rights to ensure that every person could understand the subject thereby participating easily in such discussions.
Image courtesy of Africa Law Tech