Why we want to digitise all Government – Minister

By Stanley Iwuoha

The Federal Government is about to digitise its procedures to take advantage of the advantages offered by the digital economy.

The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, says efforts is being made to digitise all government processes to enable the country benefit from the opportunities offered by the digital economy.

The Minister disclosed this at an event to mark Global Data Privacy Day, with the subject “Take Control of your data,” in Abuja.

Data Privacy Day is presently commemorated in the US, Canada, Israel, Nigeria, Qatar, and 47 European nations. It was started to promote privacy and best practices for data protection.

The purpose of the occasion, which is observed in Nigeria from January 28 to February 4, is to unite people worldwide in raising awareness of data subjects’ rights.

The Minister said, “A lot of gadgets we use today are interconnected which means the data we are producing daily must be protected and the people producing it too being enlightened. President Bola Tinubu has given us the mandate to transform public services with technology. It means a lot more of the things we do in public service will be digitalised. A lot of the services that citizens consume in the coming months; and years will also be digitalised. There may be dangers as we collect and share data, so there is a need for us as government agencies to protect the data appropriately. We need to invest in innovative ways to protect data.’’

He states that NDPC will be able to fulfil that function, and Galaxy BackBone will assist in overseeing the data exchange system and making sure it complies with established guidelines.

The minister added that manufacturers of digital devices must make sure that the personal information they gather is secure.

He continued by saying that there is a significant knowledge gap about data protection, thus the week would be centred around enlightenment.

He said, “The knowledge is lacking because there is no capacity, and it is a new way of doing things and we need to consider behavioural change.’’

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on ICT and cybersecurity, Stanley Adedeji, assured that the National Assembly would make sure that its method of data collection complies with the new guidelines.

“In performing our constitutional duties as legislators, we collect a lot of data. We must make sure the mode in which we collect data complies with the Data Privacy law. This means that we must automate the process of our interaction with MDAs and other organisations,’’ he said.

Mr Adedeji urged organisations to comply and refrain from picking a side in a legal dispute when they are found to be at fault.

He contended that all institutions ought to be involved in the data protection ecosystem, which is currently in its early stages of development.

He continued by saying that to influence people’s attitudes towards data privacy and to familiarise them with data protection rules, capacity building is necessary.

He promised that the National Assembly would work with other bodies to reform laws that would increase the effectiveness and transparency of the NDPC.

In 2023, the NDPC National Commissioner, Dr Vincent Olatunji, stated that the organisation created a five-year Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan with five pillars.

According to Mr Olatunji, they were able to accomplish two of the three most difficult goals on the road map in less than a year, apart from the awareness component, which calls for significant capacity building.

According to him, “The commission is eager to create a pool of data protection officers that are competitive on a global scale and capable of carrying out the responsibilities assigned to them under Section 332 of the Nigeria Data Protection Act.” At least 500,000 data controllers and processors have been identified, and for them to fulfil their legal obligations, they require certified DPOs.

“We cannot afford to subject this pool to mandatory foreign certifications, as this will devalue our native currency and undermine the goals outlined in Executive Orders 003 and 005 of the Federal Government. To close the gap, we have finalised plans for the licencing of an indigenous certification authority with an international scope and global standards.
Among the organisations involved in the event were Zenith Bank, Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited, and the National Information Technology Development Agency.

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