Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami has said the introduction of data protection law in the country will boost the confidence of foreign investors in the nation’s economy and propel them to do business in Nigeria.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), last Wednesday, approved the transmission of the National Data Protection Bill (NDPB) to the National Assembly as an executive bill through the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.
Speaking at the event organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, in collaboration with the National Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) in Abuja, the minister noted that investors expect Nigeria to have a data protection law before they invest their money in the country in line with global best practice.
He said: “Today, it is a global best practice to have a data protection law in place, otherwise you will find it difficult to attract so many interventions that are of benefit to your country. Even potential investors may ask questions to know whether you have data protection laws in your country or not?
“If you don’t have any data protection law in place, they will feel uncomfortable to invest because today, data is critical. Whenever we engage with potential investors, we try to convince them of the need to come to Nigeria to invest, and they always ask if we have a data protection law?
“But we have subsidiary law. Many of them do agree with subsidiary law, at the same time, many disagree that subsidiary law is insufficient for them, but in Nigeria it is sufficient.”
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He said it is because of this that the Ministry came up with the proposal of having a full-fledged data protection institution and also principal legislation of data protection relation in Nigeria.
Pantami said privacy in Nigeria is not only provided for in the enabling law, but rather it is the constitutional right of the citizens, as part of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
“Nigeria is the first African country to join developed countries in celebrating the international data privacy day.
“The law about data protection is not in any way to punish our citizens, but rather to create awareness so that we will all be data compliant, that is why it is important. We are urged to comply, and today, because of awareness creation, reaching out to other institutions, sanctions and interrogating others, you will discover that the compliance rate is going higher.”
Prof. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy presented the bill which has its major aim of safeguarding the fundamental rights, freedoms and the interests of data subjects as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Part of the contents of the bill includes providing for the regulation of processing of personal data, promoting data processing practices that safeguard the security of personal data and privacy of data subjects.
The bill also seeks to ensure that personal data is processed in a fair, lawful and accountable manner and intervene in cases of data breaches, among other objectives.
In his remarks, the National Commissioner of Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, commended the Minister for the effort he made to ensure that NDPB was established and also for his efforts in ensuring the approval of the Data Protection Bill by FEC.
He urged all stakeholders to cooperate with the Federal Government in ensuring the sustainability of the abundant opportunities in Nigeria’s digital economy.