Pantami urges governments to strengthen personal data protection in Africa
Currently, Nigeria does not have a privacy act or a comprehensive framework for protection of personal information of persons whose personal information is collected.
Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, has advised African government to strengthen data protection mechanisms in their countries, stating that this is essential for the growth of the continent’s digital economy. He stated this last week during his keynote address at the 1st Africa Data Protection Conclave, which held virtually on October 15th-16th.
In a statement made available to Financial Nigeria on Tuesday, Pantami emphasised the importance of building citizen's trust in the use of their data and to prevent data breaches in any form. The minister said the introduction of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) in Nigeria was for the purpose of advancing the country's digital economy.
The NDEPS, unveiled in November 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, is a blueprint for transforming Nigeria into a leading player in the global digital economy and for leveraging digital innovation and entrepreneurship to create prosperity for all. Pantami said the document provides a framework for developing regulations and building the infrastructure needed to support technological innovation and digital skills in Nigeria.
“We need to ensure that nations build their data infrastructure, mining and security to the highest level because this will be the industry of the future to generate economic growth and build wealth,” the minister said.
The 1st Africa Data Protection Conclave was organised by Taxaide Technologies Limited (Taxtech), a Nigerian data protection compliance organisation, in partnership with other organisations, including Anaje, Olumide, Oke, and Akinkugbe (AO2 LAW). The others organisers were 21Search, Taxaide Professional Services Limited, and Banwo & Ighodalo, among others. Themed, "Personal Data Protection and Cybersecurity: Action Points for the Rise of the Africa Knowledge-Economy," the conference provided a platform for discussing personal data protection and cybersecurity in Africa.
As of March 2020, only 24 African countries, out of 54, adopted laws and regulations to protect personal data, according to Privacy International, a United Kingdom-based charity. Currently, Nigeria does not have a privacy act or a comprehensive framework for protection of personal information of persons whose personal information is collected. However, the country has implemented various provisions on data protection and privacy in a number of legislations, including the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 issued by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in January 2019.
Also speaking at the conference was the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who emphasised the role the institution played in developing the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation, which was modelled after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
"Although our data protection (regulation) came a bit late, so far we have achieved several milestones and have recorded unprecedented achievements when it comes to compliance. Our model is unique because we also appointed data compliance organisations like Taxaide Technologies DPCO," Abdullahi said.
The conference featured more than 25 speakers, including policymakers, captains of industry, legal luminaries and other stakeholders from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and other African countries.
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