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Agency to engage new Nigerian govt on passage of delayed data protection bill

Categories Biometrics News  |  ID for All
Agency to engage new Nigerian govt on passage of delayed data protection bill

An unnamed official of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau has a told local daily Punch that the agency is planning to open discussions with the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in order to accelerate the enactment process of the country’s Data Protection Bill.

The expectation was that former President Muhammadu Buhari was going to sign the bill into law before he leaves office, but things did not happen that way despite the draft legislation having been okayed by the senate weeks before he departed on May 29.

Delay on the passage of the bill is part of the reason why more funds for Nigeria’s digital ID ecosystem project are yet to be released by funders, Punch reports, quoting Solomon Dole, coordinator of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (Nigeria ID4D) initiative, the body through which the ecosystem project is being implemented.

A triad of the World Bank, the French Development Agency and the European Investment Bank is helping finance the digital ID project in Nigeria, and the institutions are said to have made the enactment of the data protection bill a prerequisite for the disbursement of more funds.

Last month, Nigeria’s former Digital Economy Minister Isa Ali Ibrahim said they had crossed the 100 million-mark with ID issuance, but the country is still eyeing the World Bank target of 148 million IDs by the first quarter of 2024.

As digital ID issuance progresses and its uses expand in the country, there have been increasing calls from different quarters for the federal government to make the data protection bill come alive in order to handle the lingering concerns about users’ data security and privacy.

Dole says they have been working with the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau to ensure that the legislation is enacted as soon as possible.

“The data protection law or enactment is a disbursement condition of the project. It simply means we cannot do certain things, like explore the area of identity, until the data protection law is enacted,” says Dole as quoted by Punch.

As the push for the passage of the Nigeria data protection bill continues, lawyer and data privacy advocate Olumide Babalola said in a LinkedIn post that he has been inundated with messages from members of the public calling for the bill to be signed into law. He said it was time for Nigerians to make their voices count on the matter.

Meanwhile, the importance of data protection was also at the centre of a recent capacity building workshop organised for ICT reporters in Nigeria. Speaking on the occasion, the National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau Vincent Olatunji said data protection is crucial in advancing Nigeria’s digital economy development prospects, per Voice of Nigeria.

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