NITDA, Airtel Partner On Digital Literacy 

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NITDA, Airtel
R-L: The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi presenting a copy of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan to the managing director of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Surendran Chemmenkotil when he paid him a courtesy call in his office in Abuja.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has entered into a partnership with Airtel Nigeria to provide digital literacy platforms through joint corporate social responsibilities (CSR).

The director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, proposed this initiative while receiving the managing director of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Surendran Chemmenkotil and his management team on a courtesy visit to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja. 

Abdullahi explained that NITDA’s aim is not to stifle innovation or to be a constraint to businesses but to level the field for innovative ideas to thrive.

“It is dynamic, it is changing; new things are coming [and] we must be innovative in the way we regulate because our regulation is not to put unnecessary roadblocks in the business environment but to make it easier.

“Government’s role in business is to intervene via policies and infrastructure in the unserved and under-served communities. We all know the key role data plays today and what is happening globally around campaigns on data privacy, surveillance capitalism and so on,” he explained.

He stated further that it is not only about collecting the data but utilising it. The focus on data privacy is to let people be conscious and have ethical values, with the realisation that these data belong to humans and should be adequately protected. 

While intimating his visitors on possible areas of partnership, Abdullahi disclosed that the NITDA has a lot of initiatives targeted at igniting activities in the technology ecosystem to create more demand for Airtel’s services. 

“We are doing a lot around digital literacy and digital entrepreneurship, that enables the use of digital devices to increase revenue for the data providers,” he added.

Abdullahi stated that the focus at NITDA is to bring innovation into traditional and emerging resources, identify new markets and create non-consumer market values so that there would be shared incentives that keep both parties in the business.

The NITDA helmsman averred that the partnership, through corporate social responsibility (CSR) can promote the implementation of digital literacy, an ambitious target of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s projection to achieve 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030. 

In his remarks, the agency’s director of finance, Mr Ibrahim Umar, commended Airtel for its compliance in remitting its annual levy of 1 per cent profit before tax to the Information Technology Fund that is usually collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS). 

In his speech, the national commissioner, Nigerian Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, affirmed that the issue of data is key globally.

“There is hardly anything we can do now without going online. Every aspect of our life is being digitised and the core of it is data.” 

The Federal Government of Nigeria recognised this many years back, but a major step was taken in 2019 when the NDPR was issued. We are glad to say that Airtel is one of the companies that has consistently complied with regulations. We commend you for this,” he added.

He further revealed that the NDPR gave birth to the bureau. The president graciously approved the creation of the bureau based on the recommendation of the minister of communications and digital economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, about three weeks ago.

He assured stakeholders that, soon, they would be seeing a lot of activity from the bureau, especially in capacity-building which is key to the development of IT. 

Olatunji reiterated that data protection is a global issue and whatever capacity we have here in Nigeria will be the same in any part of the world.

He advised Airtel to have its data protection team that would oversee data and advise management on what to do in terms of awareness, capacity and organisational and technological measures that need to be put in place, to ensure that the data of Nigerians are adequately protected.

Earlier, Chemmenkotil expressed amazement at the extent of work carried out by NITDA, especially in compliance with the NDPR.

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