Kenya to publish draft data protection Bill

Kenya will develop a final version of the data protection law after input from the industry and public.
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Kenya will develop a final version of the data protection law after input from the industry and public.

Kenya will publish a draft data protection law this month to create safeguards for personal data held by mobile phone-based lenders and others, minister of information, communication and technology Joe Mucheru said yesterday.

It will specify how data can be stored and shared, and will take into account standards set by data protection laws outside Kenya, including in the European Union, Mucheru said.

The government estimates that mobile phone-based financial firms are lending more than 15 billion Kenya shillings ($148.51 million) daily, he said.

"We cannot ignore the fact that we have become a digital economy and therefore we need to have all the protections that are needed," he told Reuters.

The draft is the latest attempt to regulate a growing number of phone-based lenders ranging from large Kenyan firms like Safaricom, which partners with local lenders, to start-ups, several of which are backed by Silicon Valley investors.

"It is something that we must do as a country," the minister said. The Bill will be published within two weeks and the ministry will develop a final version after input from the industry and the public, before it is presented to parliament.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation, adopted last month, is seen as a landmark law that gives EU citizens new rights over how their personal data is used.

As it was for mobile money systems, Kenya is something of a test case for the new lending platforms.

The finance ministry published another draft Bill last month aimed at reining in the high interest rates charged by some of those lenders on their loans to customers.

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