IT Law & Intellectual Property Law | Legal analysis
Interview with the Minister for Digital Economy, Telecommunications and Innovation of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
23 November 2021

I would like to greet you and thank you for the honor you are doing to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire by dedicating to it this publication of “La lettre du DPO”.

I am delighted that I have been chosen as the spokesperson for the Ivorian government in order to discuss with you the issues related to the digital economy and its possible impact on the management of personal data. 

This is an opportunity to enlighten national and international opinion on the process of accelerated digital transformation in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and the measures taken by our country to ensure the protection of personal data.

Could you outline your background and the key steps that led you to become interested in digital economy and data protection?

It is not always easy to talk about oneself, but I accept the requirements of this exercise.

I am Roger Félix ADOM, Specialist in Management of Organizations, notably in the field of telecommunications and new information and communication technologies.

Current Minister for Digital Economy, Telecommunications and Innovation of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, I started my career in 1990 in Paris, within the Cap Gemini group, first as Consultant and then as Project Director.

In 1997, I joined Ernst & Young in Paris and then the firm in Abidjan, as Director of French-speaking Africa in charge of the development of the consulting business.

In 2003, I was recruited by the multinational company Orange as Director of Information Systems before being promoted to Deputy CEO of Orange Côte d’Ivoire.

In 2010, I was transferred to the Orange Group’s headquarters based in Paris, as Director of Information Systems for the Africa, Middle East and Asia zone.

In 2017, I joined the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan as Director of Information Technologies.

In March 2020, I was appointed CEO of Vivendi Africa.

The same year, in May 2020, His Excellency Mr. Alassane OUATTARA honored me by appointing me Minister for the Modernization of Administration and Innovation of Public Service.

In 2021, the President of the Republic has renewed his confidence in me by entrusting me with the leadership of the Ministry for Digital Economy, Telecommunications and Innovation with the main mission of developing and managing the digital strategy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

This professional career has allowed me to deepen my experiences and to capitalize on the best practices in the digital field that I strive to develop within my department, in order to make the digital economy a key factor of economic development as wished by the President of the Republic.

Could you describe the legal framework for the protection of personal data in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire?

The development of the digital sector increases the sensitivity of data and the possible risks for their users. It is therefore necessary to create a secure data framework.

Protecting personal data means protecting the privacy, dignity and fundamental rights of a person, such as the right to privacy, the right to one’s own image and the right to honor. Each State or institution has consequently the obligation to take the necessary measures.

In the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the government has adopted the following texts for data security in order to create digital trust and protect the cyberspace:

  1. Ordinance No. 2012-293 of March 21st, 2012 on telecommunications and ICT (title IX, chapter 3)

According to this ordinance, operators and service providers are obliged to:

  • ensure the confidentiality of communications (Article 162),
  • take appropriate measures to ensure the protection, integrity and confidentiality of personal data (Article 164),
  • make communications secure (Article 167).
  1. Law No. 2013-450 of June 19th, 2013 relating to the protection of personal data which:
  • states that the processing of such data is subject to a prior declaration to the Personal Data Protection Authority (Article 5),
  • obliges the data controller to prevent, in particular, any unauthorized access to the facilities used for processing, reading, copying, modifying or removing data media, as well as any unauthorized entry of data and their deletion,
  • obliges the data controller to ensure traceability in the processing of personal data (Article 41),
  • provides for prison sentences from one month to two years and fines from 1.000.000 CFA francs to 10.000.000 CFA francs for anyone who hinders the actions of the Personal Data Protection Authority (Article 45),
  • empowers the Authority to impose sanctions on data controllers up to and including permanent withdrawal of authorization and a financial penalty proportionate to the seriousness of the breach and the benefits derived from the breach (Article 50),
  • entrusts the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (ARTCI) with the missions of the personal data protection authority (Article 46).
  1. Law No. 2013-546 of July 30th, 2013 on electronic transactions which
  • contains provisions for the security of electronic transactions, including the audit and certification of information systems of legal persons carrying out electronic transactions,
  • states that the provision, import, export and use of cryptology means allowing confidentiality functions are subject to a declaration or authorization by ARTCI (Article 47), according to the provisions of Decree No. 2014-105 of March 12th, 2014 defining the conditions for the provision of cryptology services.

My role is to ensure the strict application of these laws and to strengthen the digital skills of the persons involved in the management, processing and use of personal data, which will contribute to a protected cyberspace.

This will create a cleaner business environment that will be a generator of digital trust and investment attractiveness.

What do you consider as the key issues in the field of data protection and digital economy in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Africa?

The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and other African countries do not intend to be on the sidelines of this 4th industrial revolution. We want to accelerate the digital transformation.

In the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in particular, the government plans to make the digital economy a new driver for the structural transformation of its economy. This desire is clearly expressed through the 2030 strategic program named “Plan Stratégique Côte d’Ivoire 2030”.

The digital economy will account for 12% of GDP in 2021. We hope to reach 18% by 2024.

Based on the program “vision Côte d’Ivoire 2030”, the Ivorian government has built its digital strategy around seven (07) key factors which are:

  • Digital infrastructure
  • Digital services
  • Digital financial services
  • Digital skills
  • Business environment
  • Cybersecurity
  • Innovation

Recently, this digital strategy program was validated by all the players concerned with a focus on the cybersecurity and innovation strategy.

The implementation of the digital strategy will promote:

  • the increase in digital development of the territory, to encourage the access to quality services for the population and contribute to economic attractiveness,
  • the economic and social transformation, through the distribution of secure digital services at competitive prices in priority sectors,
  • the strengthening of the interoperability of digital financial services in order to increase their contribution to the development of financial inclusion,
  • the reorganization of education policies to train talent in digital field and strengthen population’s digital skills,
  • the optimization of the contribution of digital technology to economic growth by promoting investment and digital entrepreneurship,
  • the development of innovative, value-creating technologies in order to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
  • the creation of a secure cyberspace to ensure digital trust and support the growth of the national digital economy.

I am convinced that the above-mentioned development issues, which are common to all African countries, will become the focus of attention and decisions for each State.

Roger Félix ADOM

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