By Stanley Iwuoha
The Federal government on Thursday called on the African Union Commission and all international partners to support Nigeria’s call for creating an African Single Digital Market (ASDM).
The minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami made the call while presenting a keynote address at the Global Privacy day celebration 2021.
The Minister said the call became imperative as the creation of the Digital Market would enable the continent gain the advantage of economies of its 1.3 billion people.
The ASDM, he said would also help us have data, while also protecting the multinational technology investors.
He commended the organizer of the event, NITDA for infusing a lot of innovation to the organization of this year’s Privacy Week despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, saying that the Digital Economy is developing at a remarkable rate and has been widely accepted as the single most important driver of Innovation, competitiveness and growth.
He said: ‘‘the digital economy is fundamentally transforming the way societies, businesses including the business of governance operate and deliver services.
‘‘One irony of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has actually mainstreamed the digital economy. Rather than travelling by air, sea and land to host an event like this, we have impacted more people from around the world without gathering together physically.
‘‘The Oxford Economics values the global digital market at $11.5 trillion dollars or approximately 16% of the Global Economy. This value is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. McKinsey and Company has predicted that the Digital Economy in Africa is expected to grow to over $300 billion by 2025.
‘‘The World Economic Forum predicts that over 60% of global GDP will be digitized by 2022 and that over the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70% of new value and jobs. Most nations are prioritizing the need to develop their digital economies because they realize the multiplier effects that this can have on all other sectors of the economy.’’
For him, the currency of the digital economy is personal data and that data must be harnessed and properly regulated in order to achieve an orderly use of such valuable asset, noting that when he signed the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation two years ago, he knew it was a fundamental instrument needed to digitally transform Nigeria.
He further explained that the current efforts of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in encouraging Nigerians to register for the National Identity Number (NIN) is a strategic and critical national effort to ensure Nigerians have a credible, converged and consistent database for identity purposes.
On the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation, NDPR, the minister said the ministry was also working with relevant organs of government to ensure Nigeria passes a well-thought, digital-economy propelling Data Protection Act.
In his goodwill message, the representative of the European Union Commission, Mattia Pentimi called on Nigeria to build a Digital Market that would connect the country to the EU and rest of the world.
He said the EU Commission has ambitious agenda to offer technical assistance to Nigeria, as a very important partner and also willing to engage her on world best practices and dialogue on issues of data protection and digital marketing.
‘‘Since Nigeria is very important partner to EU, we will be engaging her in terms of offering technical assistance, sharing best practices and dialoguing on data protection so that the cooperation can take off. We hope to see a new law in place by this time next year, which will mark a new era for Nigeria.’’
‘‘We urge Nigerian government to take the lead in the establishment of African Single Digital market (ASDM) to enable the continent connect with the rest of the world.’’
Earlier in his address, the Director General of NITDA, Mallam Abdullahi Kashifu Inuwa
said the selection of theme for the 2021 Privacy Week celebration in Nigeria, “Harnessing Data as Critical Infrastructure for the Digital Economy”, was due to the importance NITDA attached to the celebration and various sessions in the week.
He said the giant strides so far made by the agency in our digital economy effort justifies the importance of identity, data collection and management, which is very crucial at this period that we are on a journey to a digital nation.
He pointed out that since the issuance of the NDPR in January 2019, NITDA has made some remarkable strides, some of which are: Vice Chair of the African Union TWG on data localisation and harmonisation; full member of the common thread network (CTN); creation of over 2,686 new jobs and issuance of the NDPR Implementation Framework 2020.