It has been estimated that the data protection services market of Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, will hit the US$100 million mark within three years from now. The protection of personal data is a high priority for the nation, which has ambitions to register the biometrics of around 150 million people within the next few years.
This is contained in a recent report published by the country’s National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) which highlights the state of data protection regulation in the country one year after it was launched.
The document, known as the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation Performance (NDPR) Report 2019-2020 was unveiled on 9 October in the capital Abuja during a ceremony presided over by Communications and Digital Economy Minister Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
According to the 36-page report, data protection in Nigeria still has a long way to go despite a litany of strides recorded in the implementation of the NDPR within just one year. The strides, as per the report, include the licensing of more data protection compliance organisations; the issuance of guidelines on the proper use of personal data by public institutions; the investigation and reporting of data breach cases to the competent law enforcement bodies; the creation of over 2,686 jobs for data protection officers, data protection compliance organisations, and compliance officers; as well as capacity building and awareness campaigns on data protection.
As part of such efforts to improve the data protection regulation process in the country, the report highlights work being done by the federal government to put in place what it calls a “world-class data protection law,” which will make provision for the creation of a Data Protection Commission. The Commission, the report says, would be “…one of the strongest, independent and value-adding Data Protection Authorities in Africa.”
“NITDA would work with all stakeholders and the successor Commission to ensure Nigeria continues to improve on its current standings and help replicate its model in other sister countries within and outside Africa,” a section of the report states.
Notwithstanding the advances, the report also underscores the fact that NITDA lacks adequate financial and human resources as well as the capacity to fully implement the NDPR. Limited enforcement powers and a low awareness level by Nigerian organisations on the importance of the data protection regulation are also some of the spokes in the wheel of the process, the document adds.
Nigeria’s Data Protection Bill has also not yet reached the National Assembly, as was pointed out during the recent ID4Africa Spotlight on Nigeria webinar, though the national biometric ID system continues to expand.
The report also contains results of a research project commissioned by NITDA on how personal data can be used as a catalyst for Nigeria’s digital economy drive. The study not only looks at personal data as a new asset for development in Nigeria, but also how such data can be critical to certain sectors of the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, during the launch of the NDPR Performance Report in Abuja, the Communications and Digital Economy Minister called for stricter implementation of the NDPR process. He urged NITDA – the implementing body – to ensure that institutions and individual who default on data protection regulations be made to face the arm of the law.
“NITDA, as the data protection authority, has my full support to ensure entities who wantonly breach personal data are brought to book as soon as possible. I am aware of some quick loan service providers who use personal data to defame and threaten their customers, such issues should be looked into in line with the NDPR. I also want to state that non-filing of data protection audit is a violation of the law. Enforcement of this provision would be more vigorously pursued going forward,” news portal IT Edge News quoted the minister as warning.
The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation is a project that falls under the first pillar of the country’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030) launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019. The broader objective of this is subsidiary NDPR legislation is to ensure an effective regulatory oversight of the information, communication and digital technology space of the country with the attendant goal of fast-tracking development and inclusive growth.
SOURCE: Ayang Macdonald