The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has unveiled the nation’s National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI) at a ceremony that signifies the commencement of operations of the infrastructure.
The national PKI operations were unveiled by the agency’s director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi in a key generation and handover ceremony for Root Certification Authority (RCA) for Country Signing Certification Authority (CSCA) and Country Verification Certification Authority (CVCA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The ceremony took place at the conference room of the Digital Centre, NITDA’s Corporate Head Office. It was performed by Veridos Germany and witnessed by the director-general, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), managing director, Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) and representative of the director-general, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), among others.
As key to the rollout of digital economy services in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS), the national PKIwill guarantee secure communication for all online services, provide security against unauthorized access and disclosure of stored information by addressing the fundamentals of cyber security – confidentiality, integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation.
Furthermore, the deployment of the national PKI will empower e-government and digital economy transformations through the provision of:
. Secure data exchange and authentication for electronic transactions’ protection which can be leveraged by the banking sector and its regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN);
· Accreditation and authorization of web applications which can be utilized by startups, MSMEs and corporate organizations;
· Local and cheaper digital certificates for Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) email signing and encryption for organizations; and
· Trust, transparency, accountability and validation services in the issuance and authentication of digital identity, passports and travel documents, stamp duty, tax clearance certificates, health test results and vaccine certificates among others.
It may be recalled that in August 2017, the Federal Government issued presidential directives mandating NITDA to harmonize all Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) related projects in Nigeria, in line with its mandate. The deployment of the national PKI will therefore facilitate effective administration and regulation of the national PKI, ensuring full use and benefits of the associated PKI-as-a-Service (PaaS), including the issuance of document signer certificates, the management of the Public Key Directory (PKD) via the Country Signing Certificate Authority (CSCA) master-list. It will further enhance the use of digital certificates to authenticate documents, in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS).
A statement by the NITDA’s head of corporate affairs and external relations, Mrs. Hadiza Umar, said NITDA as the apex regulator for information technology in Nigeria under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is empowered by Sections 6(a, c, f, m) of the NITDA Act 2007 to a frame work for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of information technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria; 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 among others.