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NITDA, World Bank Collaborate To Advance Cross-Border Data Services, Digital Trade

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L-R: The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi presenting a copy of the agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan 2024-2027 to representatives of the World Bank and World Trade Organisation, Washington DC Office, Aleksandar Stojanor and Dr. Maryam Lawal for the digital trade engagement at NITDA’s headquarters in Abuja.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is set to collaborate with the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to implement the presidential priority areas of reforming the economy for sustained inclusive growth as well as accelerating diversification through industrialisation and digitisation.

The collaboration is geared towards propelling Nigeria into a future where digital technology and economic growth uplift the nation.

This was made known when the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi hosted a delegation from the World Bank and the WTO, led by Mr. Aleksandar Stojanov at the agency’s corporate headquarters in Abuja.

The meeting focused on fostering deep collaboration between the organizations to enhance digital trade, cross-border data services, and sharing ideas on developing regulatory policies that would accelerate economic growth through technological innovations. Speaking on the agency’s move to review most of its regulations, Abdullahi outlined the agency’s comprehensive plans and introduced the newly crafted Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0 for 2024-2027 as part of efforts toward implementing the presidential renewed hope priority areas in enhancing the country’s digital economy.

“We started with recrafting our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan 2.0 for 2024-2027, which has eight strategic pillars, including Strengthening Policy Implementation and Legal Framework. We need to create an enabling environment for the digital economy and digital trade,” he noted.

He further highlighted key regulatory advancements and revealed that NITDA is at an advanced stage of establishing a national public key infrastructure (PKI) to underpin the nation’s electronic signature framework. He disclosed that the framework’s development has involved extensive research into international best practices and substantial investment in necessary infrastructure.

Noting the agency’s legal advancements, the NITDA DG said that efforts are underway to push for the enactment of a comprehensive digital economy bill that will incorporate the electronic signature framework and other critical regulatory instruments. While emphasising the importance of blockchain technology in enhancing the security and efficiency of digital transactions, he stated that a broader blockchain policy is being developed, particularly focusing on the implementation of smart contracts.

Abdullahi discussed the upcoming data exchange platform designed to streamline and enhance messaging systems. He stated, “We have the Nigerian Data Strategy, which will create a balance between the protection and the viability of open data to promote innovation. Even within the country, we need to allow people to access open data for innovation and decision-making.”

The DG disclosed that NITDA’s regulatory department is working on streamlining its regulations to address the plethora of existing regulatory instruments and tackle major challenges effectively. While underscoring the necessity of digitalising Nigeria’s single window and customs procedures, he asserted that NITDA is actively participating in cross-border digital trade protocols, enhancing Nigeria’s role in the global digital economy.

“The EU just developed a Cyber Resilience Act which covers all these software and hardware testing issues, so we can also have one instrument that can look at cyber resilience, software, hardware, firmware issues and, even, the national cyber security architecture could be part of that,” he opined.

He expressed the agency’s willingness to collaborate with individuals, organisations, and experts to refine and implement all these strategic initiatives in optimising Nigeria’s digital landscape.

In his earlier address, Stojanov shared their initial findings from the digital trade regulatory gap analysis conducted by the World Bank on the continent, particularly in Nigeria and how regulations can play a critical role in enhancing it. He assured the World Bank’s eagerness to collaborate and support NITDA in propelling digital trade and cross-border data services.

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