The Federal Government has directed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to come up with the National Cyber Security Research Centre in Nigeria.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, who echoed the government’s directive during the inauguration of the Digital Economy Industry Working Group (DEIWG) at the closing ceremony of the Digital Nigeria International Conference held in Abuja over the weekend said, when completed, the centre will support Nigeria’s participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We are working on all important components of the Fourth Industrial Revolution because we don’t want to be left behind. As of today, at least five African countries are part of the group chasing the developed countries and we have been displaying this in so many international events,” he added.
Although Pantami decried Africa missing out on the previous three revolutions, he expressed delight that the Fourth Industrial Revolution would usher in hope for Africa because it is a knowledge-based revolution.
“It is because of this we have been very proactive in Nigeria. The Nigerian Start-up Act 2022 is to support our participation actively in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Also, my directive to NITDA to rename the NITDA Academy to the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) was to make us proactive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Recently, we have built the National Centre for Emerging Technologies under NCC.”
The minister also revealed that the ministry would soon present the Nigeria Data Protection Bill to the Federal Executive Council. The bill, he said, has been forwarded to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation for review and a go-ahead for its presentation to the council.
He said the bill will ensure the confidentiality and privacy of Nigerians’ data when it comes to dealing with data and citizens’ information. He said Nigeria is one of the countries to have data protection as a subsidiary law but is now in the process of integrating the subsidiary law into a principal one.
In another development, Pantami said the DEIWG will serve as an action group and public-private dialogue (PPD) platform to be formed by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the ministry.
The group will be saddled with the responsibility of mapping out government initiatives and policies concerning the digital economy and how they affect the private sector.
He maintained that the group will harmonise and harness the work done by both the FMoCDE and the NESG to unlock the potential of a fully digital economy and deliver benefits to the public, private and social enterprise sectors, to support the delivery of the short, medium and long-term ministerial strategy for driving the growth of the digital industry in Nigeria.
The objectives of the group include establishing a public-private partnership platform as a communication link between the public and private sectors to drive the digital economy policies and strategies; Creation of a framework for strengthening the immediate delivery of initiatives based on the 8 pillars as outlined in the Nigerian Digital Economic Policy and Strategy (2020-2030); Facilitating the creation of an Enterprise Programs Management Office (EPMO) and funding mechanism which will serve as the DEIWG’s funding framework and to formulate, in partnership with the government, mechanisms that drive and catalyse growth and increase investments in the digital economy.
Other objectives of the group are to examine the current efforts by the Federal Government to digitally transform through policies, projects and programmes and co-create a private sector response plan; Facilitation of a leadership mindset that is digital-driven for shared prosperity and shared national vision and drive continuity of the policies to enhance the institutional arrangement that drives the digital economy and to call on the private sector to lead the creation of the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).
Pantami said the group will be made up of representatives from the government, the private sector and academia. “We don’t formulate policies alone; we ensure that we bring together all stakeholders to work with us as part of the implementation model. We try to interact with other people from different sectors. This is what we are promoting.”
Earlier, the NITDA’s director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said the government understands that prosperity and wealth are not evenly distributed, as is the case in all countries and regions all over the world.
He called on participants to maintain the tempo and spirit of the conference.
“We want to keep the tempo until the end of November, when President Muhammadu Buhari will officially close the Digital Nigeria 2022 ceremony.
“We are already leading in Africa, but if we can compete globally, why do we need to settle for Africa? We have all it takes to be the global talent party and we have you, the youths – you are the greatest resources of this country. When we talk about the digital economy or innovation economy, your greatest resource is not what is lying underneath [the ground] but what you have in your brains.”
Abdullahi advised Nigerians to understand what it takes to make wealth through innovation because it is the only way a nation can be lifted out of poverty. “We have the brain,” he said “the government has the political will and has provided the enabling environment. What is left is for you to use the opportunity, the legal framework and all the government is doing to complement it. A digital Nigeria is for all of us. Government is just one part of it and you are all critical stakeholders. With you on board, nothing is impossible for us,” he declared.