Regional states are working on ways of enacting harmonised cyber laws to holistically address challenges of the increasing reliance on ICT for commercial and administrative activities.
The laws will facilitate electronic commerce, fight incidents of cyber crime, safeguard privacy and data protection, among others, as the regional integration deepens.
The EAC Cyber Laws reform programme began in November 2006, after the approval of the regional e-Government strategy by the EAC Council of Ministers.
In an interview with The New Times yesterday, Jean de Dieu Ndacyayisenga, an expert with the Ministry of EAC, said that the harmonised cyber laws will deter efforts to undermine the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information and communication in the region.
“The EAC recognises the need for implementing a regional e-Government programme which is an important milestone towards deepening EAC integration through the online provision of government information and services,” he noted.
“Developing and implementing cyber laws by the EAC partner countries is a great strategy that will enhance the use of electronic services”.
Ndacyayisenga added that the laws would address the challenges brought about by internet fraud and hackers since the region is connected to the fibre optic cable.
The EAC legal framework for Cyber Laws (Phase I) covering electronic transactions that comprise; electronic signatures and authentication, cyber crime, and data protection and privacy, had been adopted by the Council of Ministers and is under implementation.
The second phase of laws that are still under development will focus on intellectual property rights, competition, e-Taxation and information security.
Rwanda’s cyber laws are contained in the revised draft ICT Bill which was approved by the cabinet and is currently awaiting parliamentary approval.
The revised draft law is composed of ICT legal framework, electronic communication, information society, broadcasting and postal services.
According to Dr. Enos Bukuku, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, the realisation of a solid cyber law regime in the Community will underpin the implementation of the Common Market Protocol, especially in the services sector, an area of great potential for the region.
“This volume of business must be anchored on an effective regulatory framework and a robust cyber laws regime,” he asserted.