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NITDA regulating IT industry to encourage resource sharing, local content—Pantami

Contrary to growing concerns around the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is frustrating their speed in Information technology (IT) development and growth, the Director General of the agency, Dr. Isa Pantami has cleared the air, saying NITDA is advancing industry regulation for the good of the sector and everybody.

In an interview, he said “Our insistence that all IT projects must first be approved by NITDA is not a new idea. Sometimes, people fail to understand the importance of regulations. Without regulation, with the speed at which IT is progressing today, let’s assume the sector is not being regulated, what will happen in the next five to 10 years”.

“The easiest way to commit crime today is through IT. If there are no regulations, how do you manage the security of your country, which is very important? How can you do that? We are not after whether people understand or they do not understand, we are after what is right. What is right must be followed. As long as we have legal power to do it as NITDA, we must do it because it is within our mandate.

On the claims by some MDAs that NITDA is frustrating and jeopardising their individual efforts, Dr. Pantami averred that “Our regulation is not to jeopardise any MDA’s effort. It is not in any way to frustrate any MDA; we regulate in order to develop. You cannot develop IT without regulating it. Secondly, there is no developing nation in the world where there is no IT regulation. No! Regulation brings about synergy.

“Today, if you go to MDAs, you will see them doing their projects independently. You cannot operate ICT in silos. You cannot save the government money in IT without regulation. For example now, each MDA is going to Microsoft for any other company seeking licence. Sometimes, you can use shared platform but MDAs are going there to spending billions of Naira. Sometimes, shared platform is okay. I bought something, you are a colleague; you are my neighbour in the same hotel, its okay we can share it. What I have bought is more than my demand.

Continuing, NITDA boss explained that “Instead of me to go and waste your money and buy it one thousand dollars in Dubai, come and use my own. What is the problem in that? That is what regulation is all about. There are things that if I buy, you don’t need to buy it. We can share it together. There must be an agency that must bring about this synergy; and that agency is NITDA.

“I know of many MDAs that spend billions of naira on IT projects, you can get 10 to 20. But in reality, if one MDA purchases that licence, it is sufficient for all of them to share. But since there is no regulation, anyone would go and buy. I just spoke about local content development. If there are no regulations, how do we enforce local content?

“How can you enforce it if there are no regulations? So, our regulation is to develop the ICT ecosystem and curb unnecessary capital flight. We develop IT through regulation and we regulate in order to support development. They are interwoven; you cannot do one without the other,” Pantami added.