FG tasked on data sovereignty as experts advocate adherence to corporate governance
As part of measures to grow indigenous telecoms operators, experts have beckoned on the Federal Government to enforce data sovereignty and local residency.
The Chief Executive Officer of Open Access Data Centre (OADC), Ayotunde Coker, who made this call, said data centres in the country have evolved and Nigeria is also leading the African continent in terms of data protection laws and regulation.
Speaking at the Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo) held in Lagos, which was organised by Business Metrics Nigeria with the theme: “Establishing Trackable Metrics for Promoting Nigeria’s Indigenous Telecoms Sector,” Coker stated that the privacy of Nigerians had to be protected and should be stopped from being leaked to foreign countries hosting the country’s data.
According to him, promoting indigenous content transcends just manufacturing, but also data, adding that this is where data sovereignty and residency come in. Making a case for his submission, Coker said: “So, locally, we can actually enjoy quality data centre service at a minimum standard, and we can drive beyond that.
“Already, we have infrastructures that mean people have no reason to host abroad, which means that Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) and Data Sovereignty can now be confidently enforced.
“Previously we had a lot of cloud services that people host elsewhere just because of practicalities. Whereas the rest of the world is doing data sovereignty to ensure their data does not leave the country and if you didn’t host your data within the country, there were data protection laws and they were enforced.”
Coker said the excuses people gave in the past for hosting data offshore are no longer tenable.
“People justify hosting data abroad by saying that the quality of data centres around here are not so good and so. Well, I’ve been on an eight-year quest around data centre capacity and capability in this country. I can say data centres in Nigeria are as good as minimum standard or better than anywhere else in the world.
“This is something we have done and it is good now to see that we are having improvement in the industry that is bringing other foreign investors in, that is driving the notion that data centre is not just Tier I, but that Tier III now is a standard that if you don’t do, you might not even go far,” he added.
On his part, Divisional CEO, ipNX Business, Segun Okuneye, said adherence to corporate governance code would help businesses to grow.
Okuneye said the telecommunications industry is crucial to Nigeria’s economy as it is responsible for facilitating critical economic activities in the country such as e-banking, e-commerce, e-payment, e-education, e-health, e-agriculture, among others.
“Therefore, it is imperative for us to have and maintain a corporate governance code that ensures the survival of the Nigerian telecoms industry. The adoption of this in running businesses will likely improve the competitiveness and performance of telcos in Nigeria,” he stated.
He stressed that corporate governance remains a panacea for stimulating growth of indigenous companies.
He recalled that in the past, poor corporate governance has led to the failure of some telecommunication companies In Nigeria.
“In view of this, the need to develop a sector-specific Corporate Governance Code for the Nigerian Telecommunication Industry was necessary, especially because the industry is of strategic importance to the Nigerian economy. This was done and in 2017, the NCC made the code mandatory in order to create transparency and business growth in the Telecoms industry,” he stressed.
According to him, key items include separation of the occupant of the offices of chairman and that of the CEO; no one can serve as a director in any telecoms company for more than 15 years and that boards should develop a corporate reporting model that is tailored to the needs of shareholders and other stakeholders.