Business Hilights
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Fix challenges of local data firms before invoking sanctions, experts tell NITDA

Whereas the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is stepping up plans to force Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to host data locally, experts in local data centre management have called for resolution of teething challenges.

For some time now, the agency had been giving notices of invoking relevant sections of the guidelines regarding hosting of government data to punish defaulters.

According to Dr. Ken Dappa, a data centre consultant, “Forcing or intimidating MDAs or Nigerian private institutions including banks to host their data at home is very dangerous for now as the country is yet to come up to the expected level of cyber security that can assure real safety”.

“The issue of hosting data at home to drive local content is beyond warnings when the fundamentals’ are not yet on ground to support the calls.

“Upon the fact that all banks host their data aboard, they are still vulnerable to attacks but with maximum security system because they are hosted overseas.

“The same thinking applies to even the remaining MDAs that are reluctant to port from aboard to home.

Another data centre expert who pleaded anonymity said “Many of the data centres in Nigeria are always struggling to power their systems due to electricity epilepsy. Let us not deceive ourselves; power remains a big minus for growing businesses here in Nigeria.

“So before any government agency will wield the big stick on compelling agencies to host data in Nigeria, it must first of all resolve the challenges of data centres here in Nigeria because nobody will like to see his system crash on the excuse of power failure.

Business Hilights gathered from a recent statement issued by the Director General of NITDA, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, that after the MDAs, it will be the turn of private sector organizations to relocate their data to Nigeria for the purpose of patronizing Nigerian Data Centers.

He said “The progress made in the adoption and utilization of ICT in both the public and private sectors of the economy makes hosting data and information inevitable. However, it is disheartening to note the current practices of both public and private sector organizationshosting data offshore, despite having highly reliable Tier III Data Centers, certified by various international organizations and guaranteeing almost 100% availability as well as multiple layers of security. Furthermore, hosting data locally guarantees reduction incost and capital flight, digital job creation, increased security, and increase in tax revenues thereby boosting the local economy.

“It may be recalled that Section 14.1 of the Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT makes it mandatory for Data and Information Management Firms to “Host government data locally within the country and shall not for any reason host any government data outside the country without an express approval from NITDA”.

“Furthermore, as stated in Section 14.3 of the Guidelines, the Agency is working with local data hosting firms to set appropriate service level requirements and standards for data service provisioning,” he said.