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Happy New Year

NITDA sets 2021 agenda at Privacy Week

BEING AN ADDRESS DELIVERED

BY

KASHIFU INUWA ABDULLAHI, CCIE

DIRECTOR-GENERAL/CEO,

NATIONAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (NITDA)

At the

NATIONAL PRIVACY WEEK 2021 PRESS CONFERENCE AND UNVEILING OF THE WEEK’S ACTIVITIES

25th January, 2020

Protocols

Permit me to start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

The year 2020 as we all witnessed was a year like no other, characterized by a wave of global pandemic with its attendant mishaps. Nonetheless, we have to thank God and congratulate ourselves for being alive and well, while praying that God will comfort the families of those who lost their loved ones, and also for the speedy recovery of those who are currently down with COVID-19 or any other ailments.

I am most delighted to welcome you to this virtual press conference, which is intended to give Nigerians an update on where we are in terms of the Data Protection Regulation implementation and our projections for 2021. Before I delve into the review of last yearactivities, it is important to reiterate some few points in order to provide context.

NITDA had issued a draft Data Protection Guideline since 2013, with the objective of providing a basic law to guide the use of data in the digital space. However, when the EU GDPR was issued in 2016, the then Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, constituted a team to review the draft guideline in the light of global developments and also to provide Nigerianswith apracticable law for its implementation. The team made a couple of brilliant recommendations and gotnecessary assistancefrom law firms, GDPR consultants and some multinationals that made inputs through the NITDA Rule Making process.

After exhausting the consultative process, the Agency issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) on 25th January, 2019. The NDPR, is designed to meet the global, especially GDPR principles on data protection, and also provides unique and innovative implementation frameworks that has made it a point of reference in Africa and beyond.

Following the issuance of the Regulation, NITDA has taken a number of steps in line with its implementation strategy. Permit me to summarize these steps as follows:

  1. a) Sustained Public Awareness

NITDA is not oblivious of the information deficit of most Nigerians as regards the issue of data protection. We realized that wielding the big stick without adequate awareness would lead to apathy and, or rebellion. Thus, our first task was to embark on series of public awarenesscampaigns. We achieved massive media awareness between May and October 2019. So far, we are the first country in Africa to dedicate a whole week to public awareness on data privacy protection.

Our first privacy week held from 23rd-28th January, 2020, and on a regular basis, we issue press statements and opinions. As an organization, our officers have made presentations in over 105 events, workshops and seminars since 2019. Also, we have treated 1,200 questions, request for clarification and other enquiries from the public on the issue of data protection.

Through our dynamic Implementation Committee, we have organized Media Executives’ training and workshops for Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCO), Data Protection Officers, Data Breach Investigation Team (DBIT), Police Enforcement Team, and select NITDA staff, in-house workshop for major multinationals, Regulators and industry associations.

  1. b) Implementation Structure

NITDA has created a unique implementation structure for the NDPR. Unlike the GDPR and other laws, NDPR creates a set of licensees who have proven expertise in data protection implementation. These DPCOs are licensed to provide data protection compliance, audit, training and related services to all Data Controllers and Processors. So far, we have licensed seventy DPCOs and have received many more applications which are currently being treated.

This strategy has recorded compliance from many organizations than could be imagined. For instance, our audit reports for the period 2019-2020 shows the percentage of compliance among the number of filing entities. These sectors includes:

Financial Services– 35%

Fast Moving Consumer Goods – 14%

Energy – 10%

Consultancy – 9%

ICT – 8%

Transport and logistics– 5%

Others –19%

However, with the direction we are moving on NDPR audit compliance filing, we are very glad that we have set out in the right way. Our strategy of licensing DPCOs is yielding bounteous fruits as Nigeria now has more data protection experts per capita than any other African country. Our survey also reveals that wealth is being generated through the DPCO scheme. Interestingly, this aligns with President’s MuhammaduBuhari’s vision to diversify the economy, create sustainable jobs and develop the digital economy.

Aside from the compliance focus, we have also inaugurated the Data Breach Investigation Team (DBIT). This team is made up of IT Professionals, Lawyers and the Police Force. Their assignment is to investigate allegations of breach and make recommendations of actions to be taken on each case, through the Implementation Committee.

The Police team is also empowered to invite, arrest, interrogate and prosecute erring offenders.

  1. c) Legal and Political Structure for Sustainability

NITDA, through the support of its parent Ministry, has done a lot to give legal and political credence to the NDPR. Section 6(c) of the NITDA Act 2007 mandates the Agency to develop guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based methods in government, commerce, education, the private and public sectors, labour, and other fields, where the use of electronic communication may improve the exchange of data and information. Here, NITDA’s strategy is to create a workable, credible implementation process that would assist the National Assembly in its quest to pass a Data Protection Bill.

We are proud to say the NDPR implementation has the most robust consultative process in our recent history as a nation. This autochthonous approach has deepened the NDPR more than we could have imagined.

Permit me to shed light on some strategic steps being taken by NITDA to continue the strengthening of the NDPR implementation in Nigeria.

In March 2020, NITDA, on the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy was selected as a member of the Technical Working Group on Data Protection Laws Harmonization and Localization in Africa hosted by the African Union Commission with support from the European Union Commission. Nigeria was appointed as the Vice Chair of this very important group.

The confidence reposed in us by the African and European Unions has been justified by our experiential, collegial and intellectual inputs to the process which has endeared us to our sister countries. The import of this is that, NITDA has begun to open the doors for our private sector players to venture to other countries to replicate the moderate success we have achieved thus far. One of our DPCOs organized the 1st Africa Data Protection Conclave that had speakers and attendees from all over Africa and beyond.

In December 2020, NITDA was appointed as full member of the Common Thread Network (CTN). CTN is a network of Commonwealth nations’ data protection authorities. The CTN is hosted by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office. This strategic alliance would provide needed support in capacity development, mentoring, and cross border enforcement. The impact of this development will be amazingly limitless.

While we await the passage of the Data Protection Bill, NITDA will continue to lay necessary structures to deepen data protection implementation in Nigeria.

In light of the above, permit me to present some of our visions for year 2021 as follows:

Development of sectorial implementation toolkits- The objective here is to get sector stakeholders to agree on a single, workable template for compliance in their sector.

Standardization of NDPR courses and trainings – We shall engage vigorous and experienced Nigerian based institutions that would help us standardize and accredit data protection and information security training and certification. We hope to develop a multi-billion naira sector that would create thousands of jobs for trainers, content providers and other professionals.

We are also going to rejig our enforcement mechanism to improve compliance. COVID-19 slowed down our enforcement vision in 2020, but we are going to redouble our efforts in this direction as data protection has become a pivot for the continued growth of the digital economy.

Like every other noble task, the implementation of the NDPR has been faced with some challenges. For instance, our publicity and awareness still needs more improvement. We will work more with you, the media to upscale our efforts. Another issue is capacity. While we have a few very dedicated staff, we still need a lot of capacity development and cross-breeding of ideas. We hope to get more partnership and support this year in order to fill this gap.

Enforcement is another sour point. Our current efforts at enforcement is salutary but not nearly enough. We are considering all options to ensure we do not kill businesses, while also ensuring businesses do not kill Nigerians through wanton abuse of their data.

I want to use this opportunity to remind all data controllers and processors that the deadline for the filing of their annual data audit report is 15th March, 2021. Non-filing is a punishable offence and we are set to fully enforce this provision this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, permit me at this point to run through the events we have lined up for this Special Privacy Week.

Tuesday 26th January 2021

Privacy Tech Expo – This first of its kind program is conceptualized to promote Nigerian innovations around privacy and data protection. NITDA as an information technology regulator has a duty to ensure all regulatory efforts are infused with requisite technological support. We will have pitch sessions and our selected panel of experts will provide guidance on how to improve on the solutions provided.

Privacy and Public Health Management – Lessons from COVID-19 –This webinar is crafted to discuss the privacy issues arising from COVID-19 induced processes such as contact tracing, temperature capturing, vaccine trials etc. The webinar is expected to dissect the issues and proffer solutions for the consideration of government and other stakeholders.

Wednesday 27th January 2021

National Virtual Class on Data Protection (for Secondary Schools)

NITDA places so much value on the young Nigerians. We always craft the privacy week with youths and students in mind. This year, we are organizing a virtual class to teach secondary school students ondata protection. This class will offer them requisite knowledge on the basics of data protection and privacy and help them learn how to protect their data online.

NIN: Preserving Privacy; Promoting the Digital Economy

This webinar is designed to discuss the issues around the issuance of the National Identity Number (NIN) and its implications on privacy and the digital economy. The panelists are expected to draw out lessons learned and what we as a nation can do better to achieve our objectives.

Thursday 28th January 2021

Global Privacy Day

This will be the grand finale of the week’s activities, and the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami would bethe Chief Host and Special Guest of Honourto give a keynote address on government’s vision on data protection and the digital economy. Goodwill messages would also be taken from within and outside Nigeria.

The National Quiz Competition final would also hold and the students will be assessed on data protection, digital economy, information technology and general knowledge. We are hoping to showcase Africa’s next data privacy champions.

Finally, we will be having an Executive Roundtable with the theme: Big Tech and Privacy: Evolving an African Data Strategy. This session would comprise of representatives of Africa’s big tech, the African Union, international law firm and the government. This top level session would help Africa begin a process of decolonialising technology and help us achieve some level of control over our data.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, NITDA is set to give you a full virtual learning experience. We encourage you to follow our social media handles to get updates on the events. We shall be connecting through the Zoom platform but shall be streaming on YouTube and other social media platforms.

At this point, I hereby present to you the official kits for the 2021 Privacy Week, with our NITDA logo and brand assets and that of our partners and sponsors beautifully embossed on them.You may wish to note that our sponsors donated half of their purchased kits to NITDA for onward distribution to selected members of the public.

On this note, I wish everyone here a wonderful and eventful 2021, and thank you for your kind attention!

Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi, CCIE

Director General/CEO NITDA

Chief Information Technology Officer of Nigeria