ABC, others urge data protection to boost Nigeria’s economy

by Sharon O. Isaalah, Abuja

The American Business Council (ABC) and other critical stakeholders have stressed the need to strengthen data protection in Nigeria to foster economic development by leveraging the opportunities provided by digital technology.

They stated this at a data protection workshop organized by ABC in partnership with the Lagos Business School (Pan Atlantic University) in Abuja where a White Paper on data protection in Nigeria was launched The Trumpet gathered.

Margaret Olele, ABC’s chief executive officer, said data protection and data privacy affect the lives of everyone both in the public and private sectors, especially in areas of business and economic activities.

Olele said the council was working with other critical stakeholders including the Nigerian legislature and executive to ensure the enactment of data protection laws, formulation of friendly policies to provide conducive atmosphere for businesses and other endeavors that involve application of digital technology to thrive without threats.

“We work closely with stakeholders and partners to drive socio-economic changes that can help to improve the quality, improve the environment, both for business and also for individuals living in the country that we operate.

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“So, this is why the issue is very critical. We need to continue to build greater awareness, build capacity of those who are driving policy around this because people need to know their rights and privacy.”

Olayinka David-West, associate dean at Lagos Business School, said: “In the white paper, in addition to presenting the tenets of data protection, the core principles, international best practices, and benchmarks, we also look at why should we be doing this given the fact that we are living in this digital age and digital trends and economic transformation.

“So, how do we ensure that we capitalize on this transformation and use it to the best of our benefit in general? So, that is the white paper. So, it is going to serve as input into the deliberations and considerations, especially around the sticky issues around data localisation, data privacy, cross border control, and things that we do with different types of data.”

Nonye Ujam, government affairs Lead, Microsoft Nigeria Limited, stressed the importance of continuous engagement and collaboration between the public and private sectors to advance data protection for the overall benefit of society.

“As we continue on this journey on data protection, this is not the start but the continuation of effort to show that we are able to create an environment that supports digital transmissions within the government and across,” she said.

In her presentation, Dawn Dimowo, governmental affairs and public policy manager, Google, said that data protection was a critical component in the digital era as a growing number of organizations are using personal data to provide a growing range of services.

Dimowo said the economic potential of digital transformation is massive, especially in emerging markets where studies have shown that it could contribute up to 3.4 trillion in economic value by 2030 and Nigeria’s GDP is estimated to increase by 33 percent with this projection.

“To reap this potential, digital sprinter economies like Nigeria need to take advantage of technology – by increasing the use of data, AI and cloud computing – to unlock future growth. It is important to have the right policies and legislative frameworks in place that can advance the use of technology, especially for start-ups and small businesses which we know to be the engines of growth,” she said.

Vincent Olatunji, the national commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, said the government would adopt the White Paper as a major contribution from the private sector-led by the ABC and Lagos Business School in the proposed Data Protection Bill and policy formulation in the area.

Olatunji said, ”whatever we are taking away from here will be adequately captured in the bill that we are proposing. We are still taking inputs from as many stakeholders as possible. So on that note, I would like to, on behalf of the minister of communication and digital economy, formally launch this private sector-led data protection in Nigeria White Paper.”

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