Abuja, Dec. 28, 2023: Globally, there has been a growing need for data protection and privacy, especially in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, because humans had developed technological skills and capabilities.
Most of these capabilities are dependent on personal data, which is like a two-edged sword of being the new oil and having grave risks to lives that can be challenging to control.
Digital platforms and devices are tools used for connecting markets, whereby people leverage on to enhance finance, agriculture, health, education, transport and general services.
However, the application of digital technologies is related to a wide range of fundamental rights, including non-discrimination, human dignity, privacy, and data protection.
Its significant risks include the propensity for dominant firms to harm and exploit individuals, including children, women, elderly, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable individuals or those in vulnerable situations.
This has the tendency to increase inequality within and among countries when considering the in-country digital divides such as access, data and connectivity capacities between urban and rural environments.
The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued in 2019 by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), as a subsidiary legislation of the NITDA Act, 2007.
In February 2022, the Federal Government created the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), which was mandated to oversee the implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
On June 12, President Bola Tinubu’s administration, saw the need to sign the Nigeria Data Protection Act (NDPA) into law, thereby transforming the NDPB to a commission and providing a legal framework for data protection ecosystem in the country.
The signing of the Act, however saw the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) validation workshop, which was intended to identify issues needed to develop the data protection ecosystem.
It was followed with the inauguration of an eight-member national committee for the General Application and Implementation Directive of the NDPA, who were to ensure the smooth compliance procedure under the Act.
To further create the path to implementing the NDPA, the commission recently launched the Nigeria Data Protection Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (NDP-SRAP), 2023 – 2027 and as well held a capacity-building workshop on Data Privacy and Protection for Data Protection Officers.
Dr Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner of NDPC, identified that the SRAP had the capacity to create about 500,000 jobs and generate more than N125 billion in revenues.
Olatunji said the SRAP was established on five pillars which included governance, ecosystem and technology, human capital development, cooperation and collaboration, as well as funding and sustainability.
“Governance pillar addresses needed regulatory and administrative actions for NDPC to dynamically address challenges as they arise within the ecosystem.
“Ecosystem and Technology covers the nurturing, development of appropriate industry, infrastructure and the goal is to foster a sustainable and collaborative Data Protection and Privacy ecosystem using privacy by-design that advances the best interest of Nigeria.
“Human Capital Development is the key element for sector growth, economic diversification, wealth generation, national security, and sustainability,’’ he said.
For cooperation and collaboration, all data privacy-related activities, he said the NDPC served as the pre-eminent regulator and will encourage promotion of international cooperation, inter-ministerial relationships, and domestic collaboration towards data privacy management.
According to him, the Funding and Sustainability is a key imperative to the development of a sustainable, trusted, efficient and effective Data Privacy Protection ecosystem is the diversification of funding sources and mechanisms.
The NC added that the roadmap would check malicious use of identity, unauthorised access to people’s data and people’s information being used for various things and had threatened national security.
He stated that jobs in the data protection sector are not limited to any profession because the NDP-SRAP has more than 69 activities embedded in the five pillars.
According to him, public institutions, the private sector, civil society organisations, and the media have roles to play to ensure an effective action plan.
Olatunji explained that the roadmap took one year to prepare and was recognised in the “Renewed Hope’’ agenda mandates and the blueprints of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
“The NDP-SRAP 2023-2027 ultimately sets out broad practical steps that government intends to take towards deepening the culture of respect for privacy rights on the one hand, and fostering beneficial and trusted use of personal data for sustainable development on the other hand.’’
Dr Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, Chairman Committee on the NDP-SRAP, said the road will identify some steps and elements that will be needed to develop the data protection ecosystem.
According to him, there is need for more awareness to build a robust data privacy protection ecosystem which is inclusive and viable.
In his submission, Mr Ivan Anya, Chairman Board of Trustees, Licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisations (LDPCOs), said a lot of engagements are on-going to ensure the implementation of the roadmap.
Anya said there are currently about 150 LDPCOs and more are expected to register to create opportunities for the development of the country’s data protection ecosystem.
According to him, increased activities are expected since the NDP-SRAP is a working document.
In his remarks, Dr Ayodeji Oyewole, President, Institute of Information Management, (IM-Africa), commended the initiatives of the NDPC to improve Nigeria’s data and information management landscape.
He said that the commission is identifying opportunities that will help to strengthen the economy and provide platforms for professionals to develop their careers and help others to find career paths.
He added that from the content of the roadmap, it would have a futuristic impact on the country and ensure sustainability.