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Right To Privacy? Nigeria Needs A Data Protection Law

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By ‘Gbenga Sesan

“The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.” – Section 37 of the Nigerian constitution.

Nigeria’s constitutional promise of data protection is far from being fulfilled. This is especially true for transactions involving the transfer of personal data from individuals to governments and businesses. Despite the increasingly important role that data plays as the currency of the country’s emerging digital economy, Nigeria does not have a Data Privacy or Data Protection law.

Even though Nigeria lacks a robust data management infrastructure, several government agencies and sector regulators collect citizens’ private data with little respect for their rights.

Not only is the same data collected by different agencies, citizens have little control over what is collected, how it is used and have no clear course of action should their data be abused.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Identity Management Commission, Federal Road Safety Corps, and other bodies routinely collect or oversee the collection of biometric and other data in their respective silos.

Unfortunately, the conversation around the need to harmonize such sensitive data remains just that — a conversation. Various legislative proposals that could protect people’s data are making little progress, exposing citizens to the real risk of data disasters.

Sensitive data including email addresses and phone numbers are frequently advertised for sale online. In one recent case, information of registered voters appeared online following a data breach. In an equally worrying example, sensitive health data processed by a bank on behalf of a hospital was made available online.

In another case, laptops were sold still holding subscriber information that was captured during the SIM card registration process. In all of these breaches, the lack of a clear data protection law meant that those responsible for handling the data were not held accountable.

However, there is hope for better data control and protection in Nigeria. Various government agencies recently resumed discussions on duplicate data collection, control and use. In addition, a Data Protection Bill passed by the House of Representatives is now being considered by the Senate.

The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, that has made good progress in the House of Representatives, also has a section on data and information privacy. Clearly, the problem we face is not lack of proposals but lack of follow-through.

The National Identity Management Commission, responsible for the management of citizen data, must work with other agencies and stakeholders to secure the appropriate legislative environment that Nigeria needs for personal data protection and privacy. Citizens, who are new to the concept of data ownership, need to be made aware of their rights — including the proposals that could soon become the law of the land.

Until a robust, enforceable law is in place, Nigerian citizens will continue to be denied the protections that their constitution grants them.

‘Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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E-Business

Gartner Predicts Global IT Spending to Grow 1.1% in 2019

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Worldwide IT spending is projected to total US$3.79-trillion in 2019, an increase of 1.1% from 2018, according to the latest forecast by Gartner.

“Currency headwinds fuelled by the strengthening US dollar have caused us to revise our 2019 IT spending forecast down from the previous quarter,” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. “Through the remainder of 2019, the US dollar is expected to trend stronger, while enduring tremendous volatility due to uncertain economic and political environments and trade wars.

“In 2019, technology product managers will have to get more strategic around their portfolio mix by balancing products and services that will post growth in 2019 with those larger markets that will trend flat to down,” said Lovelock. “Successful product managers in 2020 will have had a long-term view to the changes made in 2019.”

According to Gartner the datacentre systems segment will experience the largest decline in 2019 with a decrease of 2.8%.

The research and market analysis firm says this is mainly due to expected lower average selling prices (ASPs) in the server market driven by adjustments in the pattern of expected component costs.

The shift of enterprise IT spending from traditional (non-cloud) offerings to new, cloud-based alternatives is continuing to drive growth in the enterprise software market.

In 2019, the market is forecast to reach US$427-billion, up 7.1% from US$399-billion in 2018. The largest cloud shift has so far occurred in application software.

However, Gartner expects increased growth for the infrastructure software segment in the near-term, particularly in integration platform as a service (iPaaS) and application platform as a service (aPaaS).

Lovelock added, “The choices CIOs make about technology investments are essential to the success of digital business. Disruptive emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), will reshape business models as well as the economics of public- and private-sector enterprises.

“AI is having a major effect on IT spending, although its role is often misunderstood. AI is not a product, it is really a set of techniques or a computer engineering discipline. As such, AI is being embedded in many existing products and services, as well as being central to new development efforts in every industry.

Gartner’s AI business value forecast predicts that organisations will receive $1.9 trillion worth of benefit from the use of AI this year alone.”

In November 2018 Gartner said IT spending in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) would reach US$973-billion in 2019, representing a 2% increase compared with 2018.

Lovelock was quoted at the time as saying: “2018 is not a good year for IT spending in EMEA. The 5.8% growth witnessed in 2018 includes a 4% currency tailwind driven by the euro’s increase in value against the US dollar.”

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SON to Deploy Technology to Achieve Operational Efficiency

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Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has kicked off the process for the implementation of electronic demand notes, receipts as well as ports and borders operations clearing processes.

 

This is as part of efforts to enhance a seamless service delivery to stakeholders through improved synergy within its operational units.

 

A statement from the media unit of SON said that Osita Aboloma, director-general of SON, stated this in Lagos at a strategic meeting on the deployment of the solutions.

 

The statement hinted that the transitioning to the electronic demand note and receipt as well electronic ports and border operations would mitigate challenges faced by customers and clients of SON and promote greater efficiency in service delivery.

 

Represented by Mr. Kabir Mohammed, director in the Director-General’s office, the SON Chief Executive posited that the electronic platforms would create a business solution tailored around SON services, aimed at achieving the Organisation’s strategic goals.

 

Introducing the proposed solution, Mr. Mike Aigbe, deputy managing director, Vatebra Limited, said the organisation had helped in creating similar solutions for organisations in Nigeria and other African countries in the last 15years.

 

Aigbe said the company’s objective from the outset was to create a payment engine that could be plugged into all manner of applications for the processing of financial transactions for Organisations, including SON, he said.

 

He listed some of the Organisations that had benefited from the company’s electronic solution services in Nigeria as including the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

 

He stated that the strategy meeting with Heads of Departments and Units in Lagos Operational Headquarters was a follow up to an earlier one at the Corporate Headquarters, Abuja to interact with process owners and gather data in order to customise the proposed solutions to their specific needs.

 

The Vertebra Deputy MD enumerated the achievable gains from the proposed electronic processes solutions which include eliminating human intervention in the processes for greater efficiency, cost savings on printing of manual demand notes and receipts and elimination of the stress associated with moving from point A to B  to obtain demand notes and receipts.

 

He stated that the electronic solutions project, which is expected to be deployed within 45 to 60days, would also attend to the compulsory need to join the International Public Service Standard (IPSAS) by the SON.

 

SON Heads of departments and units provided input on their various processes to the Vertebra Limited team in furtherance of the electronic services solutions.

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NITDA to Empower South East Youths on ICT Skills with Start-Up Friday

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National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on Wednesday, said the agency is set to empower youths within Enugu and the South East region with Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills through its Start-Up Friday (SUF) programme on April 26.

 

SUF programme is a technology entrepreneurs’ gathering designed by NITDA and implemented by its subsidiary —Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE).

 

Dr Amina Sambo-Magaji, national coordinator of OIIE, in a statement in Abuja, noted that “the SUF in Enugu, would be the last round of igniting the six geo-political regions across the country.”

 

Sambo-Magaji said that the SUF, being the 12th edition in a series, would ensure that ICT start-ups within the region were encouraged and supported by government.

 

She added that SUF was part of the agency’s activities aimed at developing the technology ecosystem across the country.

 

“The programme is not just for Enugu but also Abia, Anambra, Aba, Ebonyi and Imo states. This completes the first round of our regional technology ecosystem ignition.’’

 

According to her, OIIE will carry out an evaluation to analyse feedbacks from the programmes at the end of the SUF in Enugu.

 

She also said that the SUF would be hosted in collaboration with ICT hubs and universities in the South-East region, which was targeted at bringing together the regional ecosystem stakeholders.

 

The national coordinator added that through the programme, participants would be given the opportunity to pitch their business ideas, where outstanding innovators would be identified and supported by the agency.

 

“Innovators stand the chance to submit their pitch decks and get seed funds to get their start-up off the ground to prototype, to working product and commercialisation.

 

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