On February 18 2019, the government of Kenya publicly announced the rolling out of Huduma number, a single number that is linked to a resident’s personal identifiers including biometric and demographic data in digital form.
Huduma number was made law through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act No. 18 of 2018 which introduced various critical amendments to the Registration of Persons Act, Cap 107.
This Miscellaneous Amendments Bill came into force on January 18, 2019, a mere 19 days after the President gave his assent with no public consultation.
Rebecca Ryakitimbo, Paradigm Initiative’s Google Policy Fellow, East Africa stated, ”the Act introduced a National Integrated Management system to maintain a national population register for all persons within Kenya including registered foreigners and merge several public registers including immigration register that has passport details”.
According to the Government of Kenya the said number would ease identification processes and public service delivery.
However despite the positive image painted by the government, human rights defenders and residents have urged that the Huduma number violates the right to privacy, equality, the right to non-discrimination in the bill of rights and the right to public participation.
On February 14 2018 Nubian Rights Forum (NRF) filed a case in the High Court of Kenya Constitutional and Human Rights Division against its rollout.
Other institutions like Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights filed similar cases on February 18 2019.
This cases stalled the roll out. However in April the High Court allowed the government to launch the Huduma registration but with several conditions pending hearing and determination of suit against the programme.
‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, noted, ”Among the conditions the court issued on the government included been barred from forcing Kenyans to register, using the data to withhold any services and sharing the collected information with international bodies. The State was also prohibited from including DNA in the biometrics”.
In effect to this the parliament of Kenya has drafted the Huduma Namba Bill 2019 to address some of the concerns raised over its roll out and has issued a public notice for comments on the said bill.
Ideally Huduma namba shouldn’t have been rolled out until the enactment of sufficient legal mechanisms such as the data protection law and the proposed “huduma namba bill”.
Rebecca Ryakitimbo added, ”The Huduma namba bill makes Huduma namba mandatory in payment of taxes at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), opening of bank accounts and undertaking land transfers among others.
“As a result residents may be denied their constitutional rights simply because they do not have one.
“The same applies for sanctions and fines that follow non-compliance taking away citizens control over their data”.
Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programmes, Paradigm Initiative, noted, ”The penalties under the bill are unrealistic and unreasonable.
“Some provisions such as registration of passports do not allow for due process, and residents cannot appeal if denied passports according to the bill.
“Provisions of the bill should not deny residents access to services by making huduma namba a de facto requirement to access public services, including health services”.
As the Parliament of Kenya deliberates on the bill it should look at the bill’s implication to the right to privacy and ensure it encompasses data protection principles and provide for principles of fairness and transparency, data minimization and accountability.
Understanding the nature and sensitivity of this kind of “data bank”, it is necessary that sufficient mechanisms are in place to ensure that the system is not vulnerable to breaches and that risk mitigation plans are in place.
NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA
Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has disclosed that the motive behind the issuance of Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, (NDPR) by the Agency was to safeguard the right of natural persons to data privacy, fostering safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data, enablement of Nigerian businesses to be globally compliant and competitive and to create jobs for Nigerians.
Mallam Abdullahi revealed this Friday while delivering the keynote address at the 6th annual conference of Institute Internal Auditors of Nigeria, (IIAN) with the theme:, “Agility and Resilience” which was held on zoom conference platform.
The Conference aimed at preparing participants across Internal Audits, Internal Controls, risk management, revenue and Government assurance and other business professionals to learn how to leverage on new technologies and procedures towards actualisation of the organisation’s goals and objectives.
The NITDA DG who was represented Director e-Government Development and Regulations, Dr Vincent Olatunji stated that since inception of the Agency in 2001, it has been playing a catalytic roles to spur the infusion of technology into nation’s work processes reiterating that the Agency plays “critical roles in capacity development, provision of working tools for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“NITDA also has an existing arrangement with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to aid the office in the discharge of its activities.”
Mallam Abdullahi said, “The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued on 25th January, 2020 by my predecessor, DrIsa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
“As part of his think-tank then, our thinking was that Nigeria needed to quickly provide a regulatory framework for the processing of personal data.
“This was even more pertinent in consideration of the global implications of non-performance.
“Businesses where losing bids because investors felt there was no data privacy regime in Nigeria.
“The Agency’s implementation of the NDPR has been innovative and impact oriented. For the first time in data protection implementation, auditors became recognised as Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO)”.
He maintained that NITDA has 72 licensed DPCOs among which are members of this “august body,” adding that “this posture is not as a result of lack of professionals in the IT industry, rather, we have made conscious efforts to carry every relevant stakeholder along in our developmental regulatory strategy.
“ I hope this noble institute would repay NITDA’s generosity by imbibing ethical and professional principles on your members for better implementation of the Regulation.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, New Capital Cooperatives Society Mr. Benedict Anyalenka while commending the organisers of the conference affirmed that data privacy and protection should be a requisite skill needed for development of the Information Technology Sector as it would create platform for protection of information against unauthorized usage.
Anyalenka, however, called for proper awareness on the importance of data privacy among organisations and stakeholders across the country to safeguard citizens’ data.
FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Nigeria has announced plans to deploy information and communications technology (ICT) in the country’s health sector.
This is part of the plans to achieve transparency and accountability in health care delivery across the country.
Dr. Ngozi R. C. Azodoh, director, Special Projects, Federal Ministry of Health, who represented Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health, revealed this while speaking at MTN Nigeria’s Revv Programme masterclass on Thursday, September 17, 2020 .
The virtual session themed ‘Bridging the healthcare divide through technology and partnerships’ had in attendance health sector experts including Chief Executive Officer, Hygeia HMO Limited, Obinnia Abajue; Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder, Afya Care, Kola Oni; Managing Director, Ingress Health Partners, Dr. Orode Doherty and Chief Executive Officer, Tremendoc Limited, Ugochukwu Chikezie. The session was moderated by the General Manager, Business Development, MTN Nigeria, Omotayo Ojulatayo.
According to Azodoh, the federal government has put structures in place to utilise ICT as part of efforts to standardise the healthcare system.
“The government is working hand in hand with state governments across the country to maintain transparency and accountability, adding that ICT and other forms of electronic platforms are currently being improved and expanded following the federal government’s COVID intervention”.
She also shared that the ministry is willing to support small businesses in the sector imploring the participating SMEs to seize the opportunities provided by The Revv Programme.
“I want to ask everyone who is listening to write to the MTN Revv team and say this is one thing I want the Federal Ministry of Health to do to help my business then we can engage on how to proceed,” she enthused.
In her parting remarks, she also commended MTN Nigeria for providing a platform for SMEs to expand their capacity. “I must commend MTN for this excellent initiative. It has been very productive for me and an opportunity to transfer knowledge.”
The Revv Programme is an initiative from MTN Nigeria to help small businesses rethink and retool their operations in order to withstand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic using a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives.
Peace House Charity Foundation Seeks for DCTC Intervention
Mallam Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), asserted that if we do not empower our people, they become a problem to the society in future.
He made this know on Friday while receiving a delegation from Peace House Charity Foundation,Yola who were at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarter, Abuja to seek for interventions in the areas of ICT.
The representative of the Director General, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Director eGovernment Development and Regulation stated that one of the mandate of the Agency is the deployment of ICT infrastructure as such the Foundation’s visit at this time is very apt as the Agency is relentlessly working on the implementation of the Digital Economy strategy.
MallamAbdullahi affirmed that Agency at the moment is looking for organisations to partner with to sustain Digital Capacity Training Centres deployed across the country.
He commended the effort of the organisation in assisting orphans with not only providing basic education but also the provision of skills, mentorship and moral upbringing.
Speaking earlier, Mr Mohammad Bello, a Director with the Foundation said that the organisation was at the Agency to seek for ICT intervention and to commend NITDA’s effort in promoting ICT knowledge across the nation.
He stated that the organisation supports education for the orphans and the less privileged, promote health care delivery especially among women and children, provide sensitisation workshop for parents (mothers) on parenting and matrimonial home, promote unity and encourage self-reliance among the populace.
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