2024 – Compliance with Emerging Cybersecurity Regulations: A legal guide for technology companies in French-speaking West Africa

Gorodenkoff | Shutterstock

In today’s business landscape it is common-place for companies to implement customised cyber defence initiatives to address ever-changing local law requirements. Safeguarding the confidentiality of both corporate and personal data while proactively mitigating risks underscores the indispensability of IT security and cybersecurity measures. It is these measures that serve as pivotal tools in overseeing and regulating corporate safeguarding efforts.

The objective of this article is to furnish a comprehensive analysis of the legal framework surrounding cybersecurity regulation for IT enterprises in Africa, with a particular focus on Francophone West Africa.

Cyber-attacks pose a multifaceted threat, targeting not only sensitive information but also individuals and entities. Such attacks can manifest themselves in various forms, including data manipulation, destruction and extortion, underscoring the critical importance of robust cyber-security protocols. In light of the increasing prevalence of cyber threats and IT-related complexities, Africa has embraced various digital solutions in recent years to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

With nearly half of its population connected, West Africa is deeply entrenched in cyberspace, bringing forth a host of challenges and responsibilities. Francophone West Africa encompasses 11 countries, the majority of which are members of OHADA. These countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo - Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea - Conakry, Mali, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Togo.

As of now, none of these countries have enacted dedicated legislation pertaining to IT security or cybersecurity. Nevertheless, it is evident that despite the absence of specific legal frameworks, these nations share a burgeoning cybersecurity market, particularly in light of the ongoing digital transformation of businesses. Furthermore, this digital transformation necessitates bolstered cyber protection measures. The adoption of a robust cybersecurity infrastructure enables proactive mitigation of financial losses through the safeguarding of IT systems, adherence to established standards, and the preservation of user trust and security to the fullest extent possible.

Safeguarding the personal and professional data of millions of users stands as one of the foremost challenges confronting Africa today. This underscores the need for both a structured legal framework to establish robust protection systems and rigorous monitoring to ensure their effective implementation. However, despite the absence of specific cybersecurity legislation in West Africa, the majority of the French-speaking countries in the region have enacted laws governing various sectors such as electronic communications in Togo, telecommunications in Benin, or personal data protection, which is prevalent across most of these nations.

For example, in Benin the Digital Code mandates the establishment of both active and passive infrastructures for electronic communications services. It also regulates the operations of the Personal Data Protection Authority (APDP), ensuring compliance with regulations concerning the processing of personal data.

In Ivory Coast, where hacking incidents have significantly risen in recent years, cybercrime has become more prevalent, highlighting the crucial importance of expertise in safeguarding personal digital data for the prosperity of both local and international businesses. Consequently, a recent law has been enacted to outline key measures for cyberspace protection, particularly governing electronic communications networks in the country. To ensure compliance with local regulations pertaining to various aspects of IT and cybersecurity activities, it is imperative for companies to seek guidance from consulting firms specialized in this domain. Engaging the services of such firms is strongly advised.

Thus far John Ffooks & Co has provided extensive local law support to numerous e-tech companies, guiding them through the legal processes necessary for establishing operations in Africa. With substantial expertise gained from assisting numerous clients in the information technology and telecommunications sectors, John Ffooks & Co is well-equipped to assist you in obtaining licenses and navigating the procedures essential for offering cybersecurity services in Francophone West Africa.

Our familiarity with the legal framework in Francophone Africa, coupled with our local presence, positions us favourably to assist you in expanding your business and understanding the relevant legislative framework governing your operations.

Tags: Benin cyber-attacks cybersecurity cyberspace data protection IT Ivory Coast regulations Technology