The Nigerian IT regulator says it will engage stakeholders in the planned repeal of its establishing laws, which has been the subject of controversy among industry groups.
A 26-page document that showed up on social media that plans to repeal the laws establishing the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) sparked mixed reactions from industry pressure groups, associations, and professionals over some of the provisions of the proposed legislation.
NITDA has this week issued a press statement made available to Technology Times and signed Mrs. Hadiza Umar, the Federal IT regulator’s Corporate Affairs and External Relations Head, promising to involve stakeholders in the proposed change of the agency’s establishing laws as stated below:
NITDA: NDEPS brought need to repeal NITDA Act
“The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in its efforts to ensure that Nigeria benefits maximally from the global digital economy, draws the attention of Information Technology sector stakeholders and the general public on its commencement of the process of repealing and re-enacting the NITDA Act, 2007.
2. The need to repeal the existing Act became necessary with the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), which effectively replaced the Nigerian National IT Policy, 2000.
3. You may recall that the vision of the National IT Policy was to make Nigeria an IT-capable country by 2005. We can all attest that Nigeria has gone beyond the vision of using IT but aiming to become the digital economy capital of Africa.
4. Furthermore, since the enactment of the NITDA Act 2007, NITDA has operated as the catalytic Government Agency for developing and regulating the Information Technology sector.
5. However, in light of recent advancements in Information Technology and the shift in the global economy paradigm, the NDEPS was envisioned to “transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all”.
6. This current reality has necessitated the reimagination for the establishment of NITDA. It is a known fact that digital technologies have created new forms of economic activities that have been beneficial to the global economy.
7. However, these digital technologies come with their promises and perils such as cybercrimes, privacy invasion, and other social problems. This necessitates the need to proactively manage their adoption through the development of a stakeholder-led robust regulatory architecture to enable Nigeria to maximise the benefits of such technologies and mitigate the negative consequences.
8. Therefore, the need for a more agile and practical approach to regulations, standards-setting, and guidelines development for the country, with a focus on digital and emerging technologies, cannot be overemphasised.
9. Based on the foregoing, we identified the need to update NITDA’s legal framework for regulating and developing a digital economy for Nigeria. The Agency’s current establishment law is outdated. It cannot meet the needs and requirements for supporting a digital economy as well as effectively protect the rights and interests of stakeholders in the digital world.
10. The review of the NITDA Act 2007 aims to address contemporary digital issues, revamp Nigeria’s economy, build trust and protect the rights and interests of players in the ecosystem.
11. Furthermore, the review of the NITDA Act 2007 would serve as an enabler for the growth and development of Nigeria’s digital economy. Some of the highlights of the repeal include the following, amongst others, creating a framework for:
12. The IT sector and general public will attest to the fact that NITDA has recorded unprecedented achievements in the past few years despite the limitations of the current establishment law. Some of these include:
13. The proposed NITDA Bill aims to create a regulatory framework to accelerate Nigeria into the digital economy and substantially catalyse prosperity. This will include promoting and implementing policies that support indigenous content, access to digital services, investments in the sector, adoption of emerging technologies, innovation, research, and development, with a particular focus on the rights of citizens and national interest.
14. NITDA, as the apex regulator of the IT sector, will leverage the proposed NITDAs Bill to extensively engage with crucial IT stakeholders and protect its stakeholders’ interests in the best possible way. However, this can only be achieved through more excellent connectivity and collaboration by registration and licensing processes.
15. Considering the importance of the NITDA proposed Bill. The Bill will be presented to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill. The process of Executive Bill is as follows:
16. As an accountable Agency, NITDA assures Information Technology sector stakeholders as well as the general public that the process will be transparent and subjected to comprehensive stakeholder engagements. We, therefore, count on the support of Nigerians towards the successful passage of the Bill and eventual signing into law. This will undoubtedly help towards ensuring that Nigeria harnesses the potentials of the ever-expanding digital economy.