By Prince Osuagwu
The issue of data governance has been a global discourse since data was discovered to be the new oil to power world economy. In Nigeria, it is growing concern going by the huge population and fast growing tech ecosystem, as there is a thin line between good management and mismanagement of the boost data can give to the country’s economy.
The Policy states that WhatsApp will share information about the users on their platform with their parent company Facebook, as well as other Facebook companies.
The information, according to Whatsapp, will include users’ phone numbers, transaction data, service-related information, users interaction with loved ones and business associates, mobile device information and IP addresses, among others.
Immediately the announcement was made a proactive Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, who confirmed his awareness of the updated policy, immediately directed the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, to engage vigorously with Facebook to understand the processes, level of security of the data of Nigerian users in this new policy.
NITDA, is the Regulator of Nigeria’s Information Technology sector, and protection of the data privacy of Nigerians is one of its responsibilities.
Pantami stated that the federal government particularly frowned at the policy, being aware that the European region is exempted from the provisions of the updated Policy. He also revealed that the policy is currently being challenged in a number of countries.
“We have directed the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, to engage vigorously with Facebook to understand the processes, level of security of the data of Nigerian users in order to ensure that Policies proposed for Nigeria strictly adhere to the provisions of Nigeria Data Protection Regulations, NDPR.
“We are also aware that the European region is exempted from the provisions of the updated Policy which is being challenged in a number of countries.
“Nigerians can be assured that the Federal Government will give utmost attention to the privacy of their data, in line with the NDPR and the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria” he added.
NITRA’s 30 percent local cloud hosting demand
But taking it beyond the directive, a vibrant journalists group, Nigerian ICT reporters Association, NITRA, escalated the issue, by organising a programme which looks at how the country will generate and domesticate data of its citizens or at best grow its local cloud hosting capacity by 30 percent.
Out of the over $1.7bn world cloud market, Nigeria, with its huge population boasts of just over $100m. Even at that, well over 95 percent of that revenue resides with foreign data managers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud Platform, among other hyperscalers.
The event drew top data managers and data center operators, including Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Cloudflex, Mr. Aderemi Adejumoh, Managing Director of Rack Centre, Ayotunde Coker and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria, IXPN, Mohammed Rudman among others, who painted a glowing picture of the transformation data can bring to the economy, but lamented that a badly managed one can also spell doom to the same economy.
For instance, Adejumoh said the starting point to good data management policy is when government makes it a condition in the licensing process. He tasked all the federal government regulatory agencies in the country to include local hosting option in their licensing requirements.
He noted that such a clause in regulatory and licensing requirements would give boost to the cloud hosting industry and metamorphose to good data management in the country.
Adejumoh said that agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, National Information Technology Development Agency NITD), National Insurance Commission, NAICOM and National Pension Commission PenCOM, should have as part of their licensing agreement a commitment from the licensee that data will be hosted locally.
He pointed out that with 95 percent of Nigeria’s data hosted abroad, the country’s regulators have no control over the data.
He particularly charged NITDA to give the 2019 Nigerian Data Protection Regulation, NDPR some teeth to compete with its equivalents in other climes like the American Patriot act, Cloud Act and European General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR.
The Federal Government, through NITDA, issued the NDPR in 2019, strictly for upholding the data privacy of Nigerians.
The Regulation is the current national law on data protection in Nigeria.
It applies to public and private sector processing of personal data within and outside Nigeria. The Regulation is aimed at protecting the right to privacy, creating the right environment for digital transactions, job creation and improving information management practices in Nigeria.
Although it gets backing from Section 6 of the NITDA Act 2007, it was however adapted from The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation GDPR of 2016 which was implemented in 2018.
GDPR is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area, EEA, which Nigeria is part of. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas, and frowns seriously at arbitrary privacy data breaches.
Adejumoh’s argument is that with the Patroit Act, Cloud Act and GDPR, western governments have more control and authority over Nigeria’s data than the Nigerian government.
However, in his keynote address at the event, Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, appeared to welcome the challenge.
He admitted that “the role of the government is to enable the environment for private and corporate bodies to invest in local hosting services, the building of more data centres.
The government will continue to provide enabling environment for data hosting firms to thrive”.