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Law: Data Protection Act, 2018 ('the Act') 

Regulator: The Information and Data Protection Commission

Summary: On 15 October 2021, upon the issuance of a commencement order in the Government Gazette by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, the Data Protection Act entered into effect more than three years after it was passed by the National Assembly on 12 July 2018. Organisations have a transition period of 12 months in order to bring their operations into compliance with the Act.

Once in effect, the Act will regulate data controllers and processors, provide for data subject rights and set out restrictions of matters such as direct marketing, sensitive data, and data transfers. The Act also renders consent a central principle while requiring data breach and processing notifications in certain circumstances. As such, the Act can be said, in broad terms, to echo the approach to privacy taken by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR'). In contrast to the GDPR, though, the Act will establish significant potential prison terms ranging from between three to 12 years for certain violations.


The Southern African Development Community ('SADC') is one of the thriving regional economic blocks on the African continent which has taken steps to support and enable the flow of personal data in the region. In this article, Melody Musoni, an independent privacy professional, discusses data protection laws and provisions on cross-border data flows in countries in Southern Africa, with a particular focus on Botswana.

The Data Protection Act, 2018 ('the Act') was identified by Botswana's National ICT Policy, known as Maitlamo, as one of the most relevant and necessary ICT-enabling legislation alongside the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, the Electronic Evidence (Records) Act, and the Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act. The Act, which was enacted in 2018, came into effect as of the 15 October 2021 upon the issuance of a commencement order on the Government Gazette by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration. Its transition period is 12 months from the date of commencement. Senwelo Modise, Associate at Botlhole Law Group, discusses the Act's provisions and how organisations can prepare during the transition period.