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ACCI sets up 8-man committee on NITDA Bill

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Director-General/CEO of NITDA Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has set up a working committee to collate ICT stakeholders’ contributions on the National Information Technology Development Agency’s (NITDA) Digital Economy Bill.

Theeight-man working committee headed by Amb. Segun Olugbile, ACCI said, was constituted to properly review the Bill and generate actions and recommendations to be submitted in two weeks.

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The body was the outcome of a consultative meeting between ACCI, the National Chamber Policy Centre of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and ICT sector stakeholders.

Mrs Olayemi John-Mensah, Media/Strategy Officer, ACCI, in a statement on Saturday said that the new NITDA Bill had been generating controversies targeted at stifling the tech sector in the country, hence the need for a review.

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She quoted the Vice-President, Technology, Skills and Digital Economy, ACCI, Mr Osi Imomoh, who chaired the meeting as saying that the ambiguous sections of the bill had generated reactions because of its perceived threat to the ICT business community.

According to her, Imomoh said that the ambiguous sections should rather be clearly spelt out to give ICT operators understanding of the implications the passed bill might have for their businesses.

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“Concerns have been raised within Nigeria and the American Business Council over the Bill. The functions of the Agency according to reactions are not also properly spelt out,” he said.

She said Imomoh called on participants at the meeting to look at the session that infringed on ICT business and engage NITDA in those areas rather than tackling every issue.

“The chamber conveyed the meeting in the interest of the business community to address these bottlenecks and also engage NITDA to amend some of the sections that were infringing on ICT business operations in Nigeria,” he said.

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She said the Director-General. ACCI, Victoria Akai, also stated that a lot had been said about the bill particularly the threat it posed to ICT in some sections.
She said that Akai pointed out that in compliance with the tradition of policy advocacy, the chamber decided to convey the internal consultative meeting.

“We intend to gather the viewpoints of our members which will now inform the stand to be taken by the Chamber’s leadership. Our deliberations will generate specific amendment to the provision of the Bill as proposed by NITDA.

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“Our proposed amendment to the Bill will then be forwarded to the Director-General, NITDA and the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.

“Our resolutions here, will also form the bases of our media engagement which will push for the protection of the interest of the business community,” she said.

She also quoted Olugbile on the review of the bill as saying that its content did not suggest any kind of development for the tech sector, but instead proposed more of what would cripple digital economy than encourage development.

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She said Olugbile, who emphasised the groups’s expectations from NITDA added that the meeting was not to confront government, but to brainstorm on the bill to chart a way forward, create more jobs and good business environment for the sector.

“From the look of things, we now have an agency that wants to take control of everything including, licensing, registration, regulations, authorisations and others.

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“The essence of this engagement is to bring the issue to the attention of the public and ensure that the Organised Private Sector (OPS) help to shape the opinion of the public sector,” Olugbile said.

She said Olugbile called on the Organised Private Sector (OPS) like NACCIMA to engage NITDA to shape any policy coming from the government, adding that the billll could not work if NACCIMA was not integrated as the OPS representative.

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