It may be recalled that the Federal Government last year issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) to govern the processing of sensitive personal data in Nigeria. It is however observed that many Nigerians are unaware of the far-reaching implications of this innovative regulation. Data Protection law is at the heart of a digital economy. It provides a legal framework for many transactions involving natural persons. One positive implication of the Regulation is that it has put Nigeria among the League of Nations able to conduct safe electronic business transactions across borders.
Owing to the serious impact of this Regulation on Nigeria’s digital economy, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the Federal Agency which has the direct responsibility to implement the Regulation, has concluded plans to host a public awareness program on this law. A National Data Privacy Week has therefore been scheduled as a critical public enlightenment event, to last from January 23 to 28. To underscore the importance of this law to Nigeria’s digital economy, the weeklong public awareness program has been planned to focus on DATA PRIVACY IN A DIGITAL ECONOMY.
A statement from NITDA on January 25, 2019, during the issuance of the Regulation, indicated that the Regulation was issued to safeguard the rights of Nigerians to privacy, enhance the security of data, improve ease of doing business in Nigeria and to create economic opportunities for Nigerians.
Within the last year the NDPR has proved to be a game-changing Regulation going by some verifiable facts, among which are:
- Enhanced business opportunities for Nigerian entities in dealing with their European counterparts who are regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is in force in European countries;
- Licensing of twenty-seven Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO) who help public and private sector organizations to comply with the NDPR; and
- Creation of new job roles as Data Protection Officers, Data Protection Auditors, Data Protection Technologists, Data Privacy Lawyers, etc. Over 3,000 new trackable jobs have been created by the operation of the new Regulation.
In achieving these positive results, NITDA has enjoyed the active support and guidance of the Ministry of communication and digital Economy, under the leadership of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami). There is, however, the need for strategic programmes aimed at increasing public awareness and support for the Regulation. This is very important considering the Regulation’s role in implementing the three-point vision of the present Administration, namely: security, job creation, and accountability. The Data Privacy Awareness program, therefore, offers an opportunity for MDAs to fully understand the scope and operations of the Regulation so as to give it their full support by implementing it.
On its part, NITDA has, in one year, responded to over 2,500 enquiries and comments from within and outside Nigeria, especially from the private sector. The Agency has trained media executives, the police and Data Breach Investigators, Data Protection Officers, Data Protection Compliance Organisations, Start-ups, public servants, etc. In the year under review, the Agency began engagement with the European Data Protection Office to enable interested Nigerian businesses to comply faster with the provisions of the European GDPR.
Observers say that although the ‘finish line’ is far ahead, as a nation, Nigeria should be proud that its model of implementing data protection has become the cynosure of all eyes. Nigeria is currently helping some African countries set up their Data Protection Office due to what they have seen Nigeria achieve in a short time. The short-term goal is to enable Nigeria to achieve the Adequacy Requirement of leading countries by the year 2022.
The privacy week is, therefore, an opportunity to create more awareness, celebrate the nation’s successes, evaluate missed opportunities and strategize for the coming years. The events of the privacy week include:
- Media outreach;
- Orientations across public and private organisations;
- Public workshops;
- Debate competition for secondary schools; and
- National symposium on data protection.
At the end of the week, it is hoped that there would be a significantly improved public awareness on data privacy protection and help for businesses and the government to improve their digital economy preparedness.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is a Federal Government Agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. NITDA was established in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy as well as coordinate general IT development and regulation in the country. Specifically, Section 6(a, b, c, f & m) of the Act mandates NITDA to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria; develop guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based method; provide guidelines to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of appropriate infrastructure for information technology and systems application and development in Nigeria for public and private sectors, urban-rural development, the economy, and the government; render advisory services in all information technology matters to the public and private sectors and accelerate internet and intranet penetration in Nigeria and promote sound internet Governance by giving effect to the Second Schedule of the Act. The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 was issued pursuant to Section 6 (c) as a holistic framework for regulation and protection of personal data of Nigerians throughout the Federation.