The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is today, starting a weeklong critical public enlightenment event to underscore the importance of Data privacy in a digital economy.

Disclosing this in a statement, NITDA said the public awareness programme becomes necessary owing to the impact of Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) on Nigeria’s digital economy pursuit.

Starting today, January 23, the event will end on the 28 and is aimed at increasing public awareness and support for the Regulation. According to the signed by Mrs. Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, the programme becomes more important considering the Regulation’s role in implementing the three-point vision of the present Administration, namely: security, job creation and accountability.

The statement noted that the Data Privacy Awareness program, therefore, offers an opportunity for MDAs to fully understand the scope and operations of the Regulation so as to give it their full support by implementing it.

“The privacy week is an opportunity to create more awareness, celebrate the nation’s successes, evaluate missed opportunities and strategize for the coming years. The events of the privacy week include Media outreach; Orientations across public and private organisations; Public workshops; Debate competition for secondary schools; and the National symposium on data protection. At the end of the week, it is hoped that there would be a significantly improved public awareness on data privacy protection and help for businesses and government to improve their digital economy preparedness,” part of the statement reads.

It may be recalled that the Federal Government last year issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) to govern the processing of sensitive personal data in Nigeria. It is however observed that many Nigerians are unaware of the far-reaching implications of this innovative regulation. Data Protection law is at the heart of a digital economy. It provides a legal framework for many transactions involving natural persons. One positive implication of the Regulation is that it has put Nigeria among the league of nations able to conduct safe electronic business transactions across borders.

A statement from NITDA on January 25, 2019, during the issuance of the Regulation, indicated that the Regulation was issued to safeguard the rights of Nigerians to privacy, enhance the security of data, improve ease of doing business in Nigeria and to create economic opportunities for Nigerians.

Within the last year the NDPR has proved to be a game-changing Regulation going by some verifiable facts, among which are:

Enhanced business opportunities for Nigerian entities in dealing with their European counterparts who are regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is in force in European countries.

Others are licensing of twenty-seven Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO) who help public and private sector organisations to comply with the NDPR; and creation of new job roles as Data Protection Officers, Data Protection Auditors, Data Protection Technologists, Data Privacy Lawyers. Over 3,000 new trackable jobs have been created by the operation of the new Regulation.

In achieving these positive results, NITDA has enjoyed the active support and guidance of its parent Ministry, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the leadership of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami).

On its part, NITDA has, in one year, responded to over 2,500 inquiries and comments from within and outside Nigeria, especially from the private sector. The Agency has trained media executives, the police and Data Breach Investigators, Data Protection Officers, Data Protection Compliance Organisations, Start-ups, public servants. In the year under review, the Agency began engagement with the European Data Protection Office to enable interested Nigerian businesses to comply faster with the provisions of the European GDPR.

Observers say that although the ‘finish line’ is far ahead, as a nation, Nigeria should be proud that its model of implementing data protection has become the cynosure of all eyes. Nigeria is currently helping some African countries set up their Data Protection Office due to what they have seen Nigeria achieve in a short time. The short-term goal is to enable Nigeria to achieve the Adequacy Requirement of leading countries by the year 2022.


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