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NITDA Affirms Stakeholder Engagement in Re-Enacting the NITDA Act, 2007

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has began to rally ICT stakeholders and the general public on the process of repealing and re-enacting the NITDA Act, 2007 which is designed to ensure that Nigeria benefits maximally from the global digital economy.

Mrs Hadiza Umar, head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA disclosed this in a statement released on Monday, in Abuja.

According to the statement, “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.

“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 current 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 comes 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.

“Therefore, 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 overemphasised.

“Based on the foregoing, we identified the need to update NITDA’s legal framework for regulating and developing a digital economy for Nigeria. The Agency’s current 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.

“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.

“Furthermore, the review of the NITDA Act 2007 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:

1.Promoting the startup ecosystem;
2.Promoting indigenous products and services through standardisation;
3.Collaborating with the requisite public and private sector partners to carry out activities that will assist in electronic waste disposal;
4.Fostering collaboration to facilitate the implementation of robust cybersecurity measures aimed at building trust in Nigeria’s digital economy;
5.Facilitating capacity building through the digital literacy and skills initiative;
6.Entrenching stakeholder participation in developing regulations through the rule-making process; and
7. Promoting the safe use of digital technologies, including social media, for the attainment of national objectives.

“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% 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 22.45 Billion Naira saving and has significantly increased local content consumptions by over 300% in 4 years. NITDA currently 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 3.4 Billion Naira, 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 economic growth and job creation through Innovation Driven Enterprises; andstrategic deployment of digital literacy, skills and entrepreneurship initiatives resulting in building capacities of millions of Nigerians and the emergence of new economic sectors like Fintech, e-Commerce, Venture Capital Investment, Business Process Outsourcing, and robust software industry.

“The proposed NITDA Bill aims to create a regulatory framework to accelerate Nigeria into the digital economy and substantially catalyse prosperity. This will include promoting and implementing policies that support indigenous content, access to digital services, investments in the sector, adoption of emerging technologies, innovation, research and development, with a particular focus on the rights of citizens and national interest.

“NITDA, as the apex regulator of the IT sector, will leverage the proposed NITDAs Bill to extensively engage with crucial IT stakeholders and protect its stakeholders’ interests in the best possible way. However, this can only be achieved through more excellent connectivity and collaboration by registration and licensing processes.

“Considering the importance of the NITDA proposed Bill. The Bill will be presented to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill. The process of Executive Bill is as follows: the Agency initiated the process by sending the initial draft to its supervisory Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, for policy review; the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy perform the policy review; upon completion of the policy review, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy conveys the initial draft Bill to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Office for legal drafting and statutory review; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Office will revert with their legal opinion to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy;NITDA will engage all IT stakeholders in line with the Rulemaking Process of the Agency; NITDA will send the updated draft Bill to its supervisory Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy; the Bill will be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and upon approval, the President will transmit the Bill to the National Assembly for the enactment process, which will include public hearings and more stakeholder engagements; and upon passage by the National Assembly, it will be transmitted to the President for assent.

“As an accountable Agency, NITDA assures Information Technology sector stakeholders as well as the general public that the process will be transparent and subjected to comprehensive stakeholder engagements. We, therefore, count on the support of Nigerians towards the successful passage of the Bill and eventual signing into law. This will undoubtedly help towards ensuring that Nigeria harnesses the potentials of the ever-expanding digital economy,” the statement concluded.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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NITDA, FCT-UBEB, Collaborate To Foster Digital Literacy In Schools

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In a significant development in Nigeria’s educational sector aimed at boosting digital literacy among school children, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is set to collaborate with the Federal Capital Territory Universal Basic Educational Board (FCT-UBEB) towards revolutionising the way young Nigerians engage with technology and equipping them with necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

NITDA

The forgoing information is contained in a press statement e-signed by the Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, Hajia Hadiza Umar.

As per the statement, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi , made this known when he hosted a delegation from the Head-to-Head Debate Committee of FCT UBEB led by its Ag. Executive Chairman, Dr Alhassan Sule, at the Agency’s corporate headquarters in Abuja to discuss possible areas of collaboration.

Mallam Abdullahi , who was represented by the agency’s Director of the Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions (ITIS) department, Oladejo Olawumi, stated that the collaboration aligned with a pillar of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0) 2024-2027 which was to Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents.

While stating that the pillar was key to the proposed educational board’s debate competition, the NITDA DG emphasised the importance of integrating technology into education to capture the interest and potential of young people.

“Children today, often referred to as digital natives, intuitively use technology and unlike us, who are digital migrants, these children seamlessly adapt to new gadgets and platforms. Therefore, it is essential to embed digital knowledge in their learning environment,” he noted.

Abdullahi disclosed that the agency had been providing infrastructure and resources to facilitate educational transformation as well as digital learning centres across all states of the country.

He added that the Digital Literacy for All programme was a national initiative of the agency which was designed to extend digital education resources to all corners of the country and urged the visitors to key into the programme while he asserted that it would be instrumental in enhancing digital literacy skills among students and out-of-school children alike.

Highlighting the agency’s focus on emerging technologies, Abdullahi stated that extensive research and development were being conducted in areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics which were pivotal for future skill sets.

While referring to a recent collaboration between the agency and the Abuja Enterprise Agency on a Robotics competition organised for secondary schools in Abuja to spur interest in Robotics and technology among students, he said “I think we can work together in this area and make sure that Robotics interest is geared up among the youth.”

Elaborating on the Agency’s ongoing initiatives toward achieving 70 per cent digital literacy in the country by 2027, he further disclosed that the agency was working to integrate digital literacy into the national educational curriculum and providing hands-on experience with technologies like AI and Robotics.

While stressing the importance of addressing the needs of out-of-school children, he mentioned “We are developing programmes in partnership with various stakeholders to attract these children through incentives like school feeding, coupled with digital literacy and other educational training.”

Abdullahi noted that the multifaceted approach would ensure that children were not only fed but also equipped with essential digital skills that would pave the way for a more inclusive and technologically proficient future.

In his earlier remark, Dr Sule commended the agency for their various strategic initiatives to ensure a sustainable digitally transformed economy in the country.

While stating that the head-to-head committee was saddled with the responsibility of conducting the FCT Basic Schools debate competition, he noted that 900 students in the FCT would contest in a debate.

Sule said that finalists from the competition would be moved to a reality house which will be aired live on different media platforms where they would be trained on AI and Robotics.


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Group Seeks Restructuring of N15Bn USPF

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Association of Telecommunications, Information Technology, Cable Satellite Network Operators and Allied Services Employers of Nigeria (ATICEN) has again called on Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy,  and Aminu Maida, executive vicecChairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to make the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) work for the purpose it was created and be more accountable about the rural telephony projects.

Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy

According to the Association, the Fund should be restructured or scrapped if it continues to fail to achieve the purpose for which it was created. It noted that despite the Fund, the digital gap was still wider in the rural areas.

In December last year, the USPF committee led by the Minister unveiled a project on rural telephony powered by solar – one of the many initiatives that USPF aimed at expanding the communication network to rural areas across the country.

It would be recalled that stakeholders in the telecoms industry had called for the investigation of the Fund allegedly misappropriated. The USPF was established in 2003 with an initial N15 billion to promote the widespread availability and usage of network and application services throughout Nigeria.

The NCC charges telecom operators 2.5 per cent of their turn-over as licensing fees, of which 40 per cent of the licensing fees is transferred to the designated fund called USPF.

However, despite the Fund, a wider digital divide still exists in the rural areas as many rural communities in the country are yet to be adequately connected to the country’s telecommunication system.

This lapse has been attributed to the misappropriation of funds partly budgeted for that project by some officials who held sway in the sector in the recent past. Sensing the mismanagement of the fund, some players in the sector called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to investigate the utilisation of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) earmarked to bridge the infrastructure gap in the rural area.

They made the call following the non-impact of the Fund established by the Federal Government to facilitate the achievement of national policy goals for universal access and universal service to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural, unserved, and underserved areas in Nigeria.

The Fund is being managed to facilitate the widest possible access to affordable telecommunications services for greater social equity and inclusion for the people of Nigeria.

It would be recalled that a sum of N15.174 billion was recommended for approval as the Universal Service Provision Fund’s 2019 budget. Since it was established, the industry players said it had never had any impact on the telecoms industry, claiming that the fund had not been used for the purpose it was established.


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MTN Rallies MSMEs on Social Media Challenge to Promote creativity and innovation

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As the 2024 World MSME Day approaches, leading ICT company, MTN Nigeria has announced a social media challenge for MSMEs.

MTN

This challenge aims to encourage creativity and innovation in the way these businesses operate.

World MSME Day is an annual event that recognizes the vital contributions of the Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the achievement of the nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to a report by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), MSMEs significantly contribute to Nigeria’s SDGs accounting for about 43% of the country’s GDP and 84% of employment.

To commemorate the World MSME Day celebration, MTN Nigeria has tasked MSME entrepreneurs who are active on social media to participate in a challenge.

The challenge requires business owners to upload a video showcasing their creative use of any one of the MTN’s business solution tools with the hashtag #MTNMSMEChallenge.

The winning business will be rewarded with free radio publicity, while four other business owners will receive exciting prizes. The challenge will run till June 27, 2024, on all social media platforms.

This initiative reflects MTN Nigeria’s ongoing commitment to supporting small and medium businesses in Nigeria. The company provides these enterprises with the right tools to perform competitively in the market and enhance the quality of their services.

Some of the business tools available for the MSMEs to utilise in the challenge include:

  • Meetings+: Powered by Zoom, is a video conferencing platform that integrates video, voice, and chat features and offers daily, monthly and yearly subscription plans – with current discounts of up to 55%
  • EyeSyte – A Wi-Fi/4G enabled smart device designed to provide real-time, 24/7 security for businesses, environments, assets, and homes. The devices will be discounted at 5% during the World MSME week
  • ESET from MTN:  A high-quality cybersecurity solution that protects valuable data and devices from cyber threats without slowing down work.

By encouraging the creative use of these tools, the company aims to empower MSMEs to thrive in the Nigerian market, ultimately contributing to the nation’s economic development.


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