In a world increasingly driven by data, careful regulation will be key to take advantage of the benefits and mitigate the risks, says Godfrey Mutabazi, executive director of Uganda Communications Commission, in an interview at the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) in Geneva earlier this month.
“Make no mistake, we are into the Fourth Industrial Revolution now, being driven by data,” he says. “To plan and execute any program now, you need a lot of data.”
Data shapes planning in fields including manufacturing, agriculture and education. It’s also behind everything from national identity cards to passport registrations to birth registration, he says.
Given the prevalence of data in society, regulators must address the issue of data protection to increase trust, Mutabazi says.
“Data protection, and the way it is expanding, is causing a lot of problems now. It’s a big issue all over the world and in Uganda in particular.”
Uganda currently has several agencies that manage data but is working to harmonize these efforts with one data communication bill that would regulate the use, collection and dissemination of data, Mutabazi says.
The 5G era
Uganda is working to deploy 3G within three to six months, and 4G by the end of next year, Mutabazi says. But the country is already looking forward to take advantage of the benefits of 5G with regard to connectivity and employment.
“We’re going to open up the band, the spectrum, so that we bring it into a reality in Africa,” he says.
As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the IoT continue to develop, Mutabazi says he embraces the role of technologists in regulation.
“We are looking at these technology companies that are giving us new ways of doing business, new ways of thinking, new ways of learning,” he says. “It’s dynamic, moving very fast, and we have to move fast as an industry.”
Moving forward, regulators should take their time to understand new technologies and strive for regulation that balances security and innovation, Mutabazi says.
“We cannot afford to be heavy regulation or light regulation,” he says. “We have to look for a compromise.”
Regulators must work together with technology companies to bring about positive change, Mutabazi says.
“If the technology is coming to developed countries, like Europe and America, let them also know that in Africa there is a potential market, and we want to work with these technology companies, these scientists, so that we move our country at the same pace.”
You can watch the full interview below.