The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and stakeholders in the information communication technology (ICT) sector on Monday bickered over an attempt by the management of the agency to secretly repeal the enabling law of the agency called NITDA Act 2007.
While NITDA said in a statement, that as an accountable agency, the process of the repeal will be transparent and subjected to comprehensive stakeholder engagement, sources close to the agency accused its top management of concealing the draft document from them.
“I am shocked about the whole thing. I am a member of NITDA board, yet I have not seen the copy of the proposed amendment. I feel strongly that as a board member, I should authoritatively be able to speak about some of the key provisions of the proposed amendment. The way the whole is being run is very surprising. Public office is temporary; the current management will go and be succeeded by another,” the source lamented.
Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, Mrs Hadiza Umar, yesterday explained in a statement, that the repeal of the obnoxious act was to ensure that Nigeria benefitted maximally from the global digital economy. It said it was therefore drawing the attention of IT sector stakeholders and the public on the commencement of the process of repealing and re-enacting the NITDA Act, 2007.
She said: “The agency’s establishment law is outdated. It cannot meet the needs and requirements for supporting a digital economy as well as effectively protect the rights and interests of stakeholders in the digital world.”
She explained that the need to repeal the existing Act became necessary with the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), which effectively replaced the Nigerian National IT Policy, 2000.
“You may recall that the vision of the National IT Policy was to make Nigeria an IT capable country by 2005. We can all attest that Nigeria has gone beyond the vision of using IT but aiming to become the digital economy capital of Africa,’’ she added.
“Furthermore, since the enactment of the NITDA Act 2007, NITDA has operated as the catalytic Government agency for developing and regulating the Information Technology sector.
“However, in light of recent advancements in Information Technology and the shift in the global economy paradigm, the NDEPS was envisioned to ‘transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all ‘ “.
“This reality has necessitated the reimagination for the establishment of NITDA. It is a known fact that digital technologies have created new forms of economic activities that have been beneficial to the global economy.
“However, these digital technologies come with their promises and perils such as cybercrimes, privacy invasion and other social problems. This necessitates the need to proactively manage their adoption through the development of a stakeholder-led robust regulatory architecture to enable Nigeria to maximise the benefits of such technologies and mitigate the negative consequences,” Mrs Umar said, adding that the need for a more agile and practical approach to regulations, standards-setting, and guidelines development for the country, with a focus on digital and emerging technologies, cannot be over-emphasised, necessitated the repeal of the law.
According to her, the review of the NITDA Act 2007 aims to address contemporary digital issues, revamp Nigeria’s economy, build trust and protect the rights and interests of players in the ecosystem, stressing that it would serve as an enabler for the growth and development of Nigeria’s digital economy.
“Some of the highlights of the repeal include the following, amongst others, creating a framework for promoting the startup ecosystem; promoting indigenous products and services through standardisation; collaborating with the requisite public and private sector partners to carry out activities that will assist in electronic waste disposal; fostering collaboration to facilitate the implementation of robust cybersecurity measures aimed at building trust in Nigeria’s digital economy; facilitating capacity building through the digital literacy and skills initiative; entrenching stakeholder participation in developing regulations through the rule-making process; and promoting the safe use of digital technologies, including social media, for the attainment of national objectives,” the statement said.
She said the IT sector and general public will attest to the fact that NITDA has recorded unprecedented achievements in the past few years despite the limitations of the current establishment law. Some of these include: facilitating the substantial contribution of the ICT sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing 17.92 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, catalysing job creation and igniting innovative activities in the tech ecosystem; the implementation of the IT Project Clearance initiative that supported the Federal Government’s fight against corruption. This has resulted in over N22.45 billion saving and has significantly increased local content consumption by over 300 per cent in four years.
“NITDA registered 1573 indigenous companies to enforce local content through IT Clearance; the introduction and implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), subsidiary legislation enshrined to ensure data protection and privacy of Nigerian citizens. The NDPR is the first of its kind in Africa, serving as a source of reference for other African countries. It also facilitated the creation of a new industry valued at around N3.4 billion, stimulated new business models, and empowered thousands of Nigerians through capacity building and skills development. It also facilitated the creation of over 2,818 new jobs in the industry; executing strategic global initiatives in the innovation ecosystem such as MIT-Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration programme (MIT REAP), Bridge to MassChallenge and Clayton Christensen’s Framework of Disruptive Innovation to foster the growth and success of startup enterprises, facilitate key strategies to compliment innovation initiatives and accelerate growth and job creation through Innovation Driven Enterprises,” the statement said.