Nigeria leads Africa in data protection, despite low awareness – NITDA DG

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi

Until the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA introduced the National Data Protection Regulation, NDPR in January 2019, no Nigerian entity could claim to comply with data protection laws.

The selected multinationals were imposed a certain level of compliance by their parent companies.

But a year after the introduction of NDPR, the level of compliance appears to have shown a significant jump from near zero compliance.

This leap, according to the Director General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, was possible despite the low level of awareness and various challenges.

For Abdullahi, the level of compliance is now growing at a rapid pace, making Nigeria the leading nation in Africa in terms of data protection.

In a 3-day virtual conference on “COVID-19 and the protection of the financial services industry” organized by the Committee of Chief Information Security Officers of Nigerian Financial Institutions (CCISONFI), he noted that Nigeria has recorded successes in the regulation of data protection, since the introduction of the policy, with a verifiable database of statutory audit reports submitted by 588 entities.

However, he said that banks in Nigeria spearheaded the tremendous growth Nigeria has achieved in data protection, and praised them for being proactive in complying with NDPR and information technology rules and regulations.

He said: “Your industry, the banking sector, is a prime target for data breach and your level of compliance is building trust with your customers. Compared to other industries, it is doing fantastically well, but still, there is room for improvement so that it can get to the promised land, ”he said.

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He reported that there was some initial resistance from various quarters on the statutory powers and ability of the NITDA to implement the NDPR, but noted that the experiences accumulated thus far would be of immense benefit to the country.

“The resistance helped stimulate and focus the agency on delivering valid results. Critical stakeholders represented by Data Protection Officers (DPOs) have validated our innovative approach to NDPR implementation. And our role as a pioneer in data protection in Nigeria is also critical, as the experiences accumulated so far would be of immense benefit to the country. “

He further explained that in a survey conducted last month, July 2020, 74% of the respondents believed that NDPR met the needs of the Nigerian environment; 76% said that the one-time introduction of Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCOs) helped comply with the NDPR, while 72% noted that NITDA had provided the necessary support for the adoption of the NDPR by the industry.

Respondents put the public awareness rate at 54%, which is the lowest score. But, 85.3% of those surveyed said that compliance with the NDPR improves the good perception of their business.

Recalling some of NITDA’s achievements, Abdullahi said: “We have licensed 70 Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCOs), created over 2,700 new jobs, while the data protection sector is rated at N1. 860,000,000, using the average value of the cost of implementing the audit.

“Perhaps, this is why the African Union – Data Protection Harmonization and Localization Working Group in (Policy and Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa-PRIDA) has appointed NITDA as Vice Chair of the working group,” he added.

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