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Stakeholders seek stronger data sovereignty initiatives for Nigeria

By Chike Onwuegbuchi
31 January 2020   |   4:10 am
Nigeria joined the global community this week to mark international data privacy day. January 28 is dedicated as international data privacy day; this year’s theme is “Own Your Privacy.”


Nigeria joined the global community this week to mark international data privacy day. January 28 is dedicated as international data privacy day; this year’s theme is “Own Your Privacy.”

Each year, data breaches continue to grow in size and scope – exposing consumers’ sensitive, personal information and businesses’ valuable data.

Against this backdrop that stakeholders urged federal government to ensure a stranger data sovereignty initiative for the country, this they said would help build greater confidence in local technology.

“With firmer laws and implementation, Nigerians will be more confident about the security of their information. This sense of security will ease interaction with digital platforms, and ensure that opportunities in the budding technology space will continue to be exploited by local businesses,” they said.

Data sovereignty refers to the rights of countries to regulate the sharing of data that’s generated within them with entities in other nation-states.

In the past few years, countries across the world have increasingly insisted on this right. They are preventing global agencies from sharing their citizen’s information with foreign governments and implementing laws that restrict such companies from doing so.

Engr. Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) explained that data sovereignty is not about introducing more laws but a philosophy in how we see and use data belonging to an individual.

“In the case of locally generated data and more importantly data sets, then it is considered that this data is treated as data residing in Nigeria under Nigeria’s jurisdictions and covered by data protection laws or regulations in the case of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), which is referenced by global tech companies, insurance companies, financial institutes and health organisations and other data mining companies on how they should use data originating from Nigeria.

“It is very relevant to our digital economy in that data is not like Oil and hence a society that is a knowledge based one can thrive in driving value out of data through the adoption of Artificial Intelligence, Data analytics, Machine Learning, Smart Cities and Smart X and other heavily dependent e-structures that are data driven,” he said.

Teniola however, stressed the need for the country to domicile its data in the country rather than host them outside of the country. “This is necessary, so that we can control our sensitive DNA and reduce the overall cost of governance, create employment now and into the future, define the shape and form of our digital economy and protect our digital borders,” he noted.

He said Nigeria can effectively deal with data sovereignty issues by building digital infrastructure that enables the storage (Data Centers) and processing of our personal and private data in a sensitive manner. “Key to this is trust in between the citizens, and Government at all tiers and effective enforcement of any laws or regulations that will ensure compliance. Finally underpinning all this is the availability of 24/7 power, affordable broadband and digital literacy,” he stated.

Dr. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, speaking at an event organised by the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA) to mark this year’s International Data Privacy Day, said his administration will ensure that data is not abused in the country.”

“Any data under the control of the government or individuals will not be abused under my watch as the Minister. As the Chief ICT policy maker in Nigeria, I am here for telecom operators, regulators and consumers.”

Pantami said the entire digital economy relies on data “as such, data protection is key to driving a digital economy for Nigeria.”