Personal information, in particular health-related information, used in conjunction with data analytics and shared with researchers, is a valuable tool in health research and development. In light of the public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and new African data protection laws, this paper addresses the regulation of data sharing and transfer. Three broad questions addressed are: (i) What are the existing legal modalities governing and protecting data use and sharing in South Africa, and, more generally, in Africa? How can data be transferred into and out of South Africa? (ii) What can be learned from recent international developments in data transfer? And, lastly, (iii) where plausible how might data flows throughout Africa be facilitated in the interests of public health during times of pandemic? This paper explores these questions with specific emphasis on the importance of health and research data transfers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Data exchanges, data sharing, cross-border data transfers, Africa