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NITDA frowns at low utilisation of Nigerian data centres


Data Center. Photo: Exponent

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has urged the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as private sector organisations on the need to patronise Nigerian data centres. 
Apart from the economic benefits it brings to the country, NITDA noted that the progress made in the adoption and utilisation of ICT in both the public and private sectors of the economy makes hosting data and information inevitable. “However, it is disheartening to note the current practices of both public and private sector organisations hosting data offshore, despite having highly reliable Tier III Data Centers, certified by various international organisations and guaranteeing almost 100 per cent availability as well as multiple layers of security.”
NITDA’s Director-General, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, further noted that hosting data locally guarantees reduction in cost, and capital flight, digital job creation, increased security, and increase in tax revenues thereby boosting the local economy.
It may be recalled that Section 14.1 of the Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT makes it mandatory for data and information management firms to “Host government data locally within the country and shall not for any reason host any government data outside the country without an express approval from NITDA.” Furthermore, as stated in Section 14.3 of the Guidelines, the Agency is working with local data hosting firms to set appropriate service level requirements and standards for data service provisioning.  
The Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT (ONC), NITDA’s Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), has been restructured and charged with the responsibility of developing, promoting, and monitoring indigenous ICT adoption and utilisation. In addition, adequate measures have been put in place to facilitate full compliance with these guidelines.
Last year, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, had hinted of the plan of the Federal Government to compel its agencies to host their data locally.
Shittu said this was part of the plan to drive local content growth in the country.
The Minister said the rule will go into effect as soon as it is guaranteed that local data centres and allied hosting service providers have enough capacity to meet public requirements.
Speaking at the just-concluded African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), MainOne’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Funke Opeke, challenged the continent’s leading Internet players to exchange traffic on the continent, noting that this would significantly lower costs and improve performance.
Delivering her keynote address at the forum, titled, ‘Vision 80/20 by 2020’, which approached the goal set by AfPIF to route 80 per cent of Africa’s Internet traffic on the continent by the year 2020, Opeke examined the Internet landscape in Africa. She expressed dissatisfaction over the current ecosystem of routing over 80 per cent of the Internet traffic from Nigeria abroad, incurring expensive transit costs and increasing service latency.   
According to her, transactions initiated in Africa typically leave the sender for a long journey outside the continent, usually to Europe, America, or even Asia before returning to target recipient. She used the illustration of a bank down the road from the sender; with the response travelling all the way back the same tortuous route to the sender.  
She inquired why an end-user who requests to access his records in a bank down the road would want their banking transaction to travel from Lagos to London, when it is feasible to interconnect this traffic. She revealed that this process of routing traffic outside the continent increases internet costs, and delays content delivery to the region by approximately 150 milliseconds.
From his perspective, the Managing Director, Rack Centre, Ayotunde Coker, said the firm’s TCCF certification will further cement its ability to host data locally without issues.
According to him, government agencies, banks, and other organisations can depend on Rack Centre to host their data in Nigeria, “because we have been certified by the Uptime Institute, which is a testament to the fact that we can host the data of commercial banks and others in our facility in Nigeria.”

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