PwC executive on Kenya's regulatory landscape under Covid-19

17 April 2020 2 min. read
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PwC Kenya’s Head of Regulatory, Compliance and Advisory Joseph Githaiga has addressed some of the concerns surrounding privacy and regulatory violations during the Covid-19 crisis. He spoke to the Financial Standard.

Concerns around privacy have become more pronounced as the government has taken on increasing power to track the spread of Covid-19 and enforce containment measures. PwC's Githaiga explains how the government has to identify individuals suspected to have the disease and put them under quarantine and a variety of restrictions.

Large amounts of personal information are changing hands in this scenario, which is causing concern among many. Nevertheless, Githaiga points out that the government is within leal precedent to use personal data in a time of crisis, although this power will not remain absolute indefinitely.

“Once the pandemic is contained and the crisis is over, individuals will probably have stronger grounds to argue that any personal data processed for the purpose of pandemic containment should be destroyed or anonymised,” he said.

Joseph Githaiga - PwC Kenya

Another concern he addressed is that of regulatory violations increasing under the crisis. He uses the price of sanitation products in recent weeks as an example. As the crisis has intensified, local retailers have bumped up the cost of these products significantly, which has forced intervention from the Competition Authority.

An issue that ties both concerns together is that of data protection laws. “Health details of Covid-19 sufferers (or individuals suspected of having the disease) may be accessed and shared in an unauthorised manner as a result of inadequate security controls in organisations where such data is held,” said Githaiga.

Githaiga acknowledges the gravity of these concerns, and goes on to suggest that businesses must examine their own operations and develop business continuity plans. The Kenyan economy, much like other major economies across Africa, is likely to face significant economic repercussions from Covid-19, given their reliance on the commodity economy.

As the crisis progresses, experts will have to work with regulators to address such issues and mitigate their economic impact in the long term. Githaiga urges businesses to focus on themselves. “In challenging times like these, businesses may have no control over their operating environment, but they do have the opportunity to respond appropriately in ways that support their long-term sustainability,” he said.