Somalia Launches First Data Protection Authority to Safeguard Privacy

In a landmark move, Somalia established its first Data Protection Authority, a significant stride towards enhancing data privacy and marking a new era in the country’s commitment to safeguarding personal information.

This step may be construed as a new milestone reached in Somalia’s long-running trajectory towards state and institution building. This followed an exquisitely arranged ceremony attended by numerous dignitaries including ministers, parliamentarians, and other figures from all spectrums of Somali society, on February 24.

Somali Data Protection Authority

This newly founded government body, known as the Somali Data Protection Authority, is vested with the duty of safeguarding the citizens’ privacy as well as preventing the misuse of data by those individuals or institutions whose businesses can relate, in any way, to data.

Addressing the ribbon-cutting event of the institution, the DPA director Mr. Mohamed Ali Ahmed (Royal) acknowledged the selflessness of his youthful and energetic team whose generous contributions have been instrumental in founding this body, highlighting its key responsibilities including ensuring the full adherence to the privacy-related regulations by overseeing both public and private entities for their duly handling of the data and personal information gathered from members of the public to whom they cater services.

Somali Data Protection Authority ribbon-cutting
Somali Data Protection Authority ribbon-cutting. Photo: DPA

Minister of Telecommunication and Technology

Speaking of the Data Protection Authority which falls in the ambit of his ministry, Jama Hassan Khalif, the minister of Telecommunication and Technology has said on his end that bringing this body into existence would mark the end of an era where data, either national or individual levels, remained in the open, considering this development as the first step on the ladder towards the accomplishment of a fully-fledged data and privacy-conscious culture within Somali people.

Other ministers also delivered their remarks at the ceremony, in which they concurrently emphasized the importance of unveiling such a nascent but long-awaited government service of data protection.

Minister of Internal Affairs

Among the speakers was Ahmed Moallim Fiqi, the minister of Internal Affairs, who went on to hold the commencement of data protection activities in equally as high regard as the work of police and other security institutions, in the sense that they all exist to insulate citizens against any harmful actions.

“From now on, we should rest assured that there will be somebody to rely on for looking after a responsibility which has long been forsaken,” says Abshir Mohamed Ahmed, the state minister for the presidency, in reference to the DPA.

somali data protection authority. Photo: DPA
Somali Data Protection Authority. Photo: DPA

Minister of Education

On his end, Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir, minister of Education expressed his willingness to collaborate with the authority in facilitating its role to handle a myriad of data which is currently in the ministry’s possession. “We’ve already started our collaboration with DPA as we had a meeting with them last week to explore avenues for working together” he added.

President of Somalia

It was March 2023 when the President of Somalia Dr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed into law the country’s first-ever Data Protection Act to set the scene for the formation of the DPA which resulted from vigorous efforts made in making something out of nothing.

Observers view the inception of this authority as a clear demonstration of Somalia’s willingness to lance the boil of data breaches and other sorts of digital crimes at this critical time when the country is dwelling on a protracted war on Alshabaab, a lethal terrorist group that is hunted on multiple fronts, including technology.

Mohamed Dhaaley
Mohamed Dhaaley is a Somali writer, who reports on events in Somalia.