Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), has said that Digital Economy is growing at bigger rate faster than the rest of the economy, according to him, global economy is undergoing a digital transformation at a breakneck speed.
Abdullahi said this at the Digital Jewel Privacy Week roundtable discussion, with the theme ‘Harnessing Data as a Critical Asset in the Digital Economy’ which was held virtually on Friday, and attended by stakeholders from different sectors.
He said as the Digital Economy grows, Nigeria figured out how to make sure government, private sector, and the consumer are in sync.
Abdullahi stated that to harness and benefit from global digital economy trend, President Muhammadu Buhari, on 23rd October 2019, redesignated and expanded the mandate of Ministry of Communications to cover Digital Economy. However, on 28th November, 2019, the president also unveiled National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) in order to put Nigeria on the global map of digitally competitive nation and ignited innovative activities in-country to unlock the Nigeria’s potentials in Digital Economy.
He further noted that data is the most valuable and significant asset as it plays a huge role in everyday live.
“Collecting and sharing data is a key to conducting business in today’s global digital economy. Never before has data protection become more critical than now, it has become central to how business can maintain trust and safeguard the data they collect or process from you and me.
“It is obvious that digital technologies power our everyday activity. Some of the devices we take for granted are so central to our lives.
“It seems perfectly normal to use your mobile phone, to process your emails, shop online, chat with friend and family, share pictures, read, watch and listen to your favorite movies and music.
“In the process you provide your personal data such as; name, address, bank details and so on.
“These are the information you and I know we share visibly but behind the scene enormous amount of data is generated, collected and stored by our mobile phones.
“Your phone tracks and collects data about you every second. It knows your location, the route you follow to work, who you spend time with, it knows who you talk to, what you say, who you chat with, what you share, it knows what you read, watch and listen to,” he added.
Speaking on what NITDA has done so far in regards to data protection, Abdullahi explained that, the Agency issued Data Protection Guidelines in 2013 to provide a basic law to guide the use of data in the digital space.
However, with the emergence of the EU GDPR in 2016, the Agency worked with private sector to issue Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) on 25th January 2019.
Subsequent to the issuance of the NDPR, NITDA has sustained substantial public awareness campaigns. The Agency carried out massive media awareness in May and October 2019. Nigeria is the first country in Africa to dedicate a whole week to public awareness on data privacy protection.
“Our first privacy week held on 23rd – 28th January, 2020. On a regular basis we issue press statements. Also, we have treated several questions, request for clarification and other enquiries from the public on the issue of data protection.
“We have also organized workshops for Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCO), Data Protection Officers, Data Breach Investigation Team (DBIT), Police Enforcement Team, selected NITDA staff, in-house workshop for major multinationals, Regulators and industry associations.
“NITDA has created unique implementation structure for the NDPR, which also creates a set of licensees to organizations who have proven expertise in data protection implementation.
“These DPCOs are licensed to provide data protection compliance, audit, training and related services to all Data Controllers and Processors.
“We have licensed seventy DPCOs and have received many more applications which are currently being processed. Aside from the compliance focus, we have also inaugurated the Data Breach Investigation Team (DBIT).
“On the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, NITDA was appointed as a member of the Technical working group on Data Protection Laws Harmonization and Localization in Africa hosted by the African Union Commission with support from the European Union Commission. Nigeria was appointed as the Vice Chair of this very important group.
“The confidence reposed in us by the African and European Union (EU) has been justified as our experiential, collegial and intellectual inputs to the process has endeared us to our sister countries,” he added.