South Africa has taken the lead, ahead of Nigeria, in enacting a law that protects its critical national infrastructure.
The South Africa law signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in November, 2019 repeals the apartheid-era National Key points Act and provides for public-private cooperation in the identification and protection of critical infrastructure.
“In the infrastructure sector, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act repeals the National Key Points Act of 1980 which has become outdated and is not aligned with the imperatives of the democratic Constitution.
“The law provides for the identification and declaration of infrastructure as critical, and engages both the public and private sectors in the protection, safeguarding and resilience of critical infrastructure,” said the Presidency.
The South African Act provides for guidelines and factors to be taken into account to ensure transparent identification and declaration of critical infrastructure, and provides for the administration of the Act under the control of the National Commissioner of Police, replacing the South African National Defence Force as the responsible entity.
In addition, the Act also provides for the establishment of the Critical Infrastructure Council and its functions.
Furthermore, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act 8 of 2019 aims to provide for:
the identification and declaration of infrastructure as critical infrastructure;
guidelines and factors to be taken into account to ensure transparent identification and declaration of critical infrastructure;
the establishment of the Critical Infrastructure Council and its functions;
measures to be put in place for the protection, safeguarding and resilience of critical infrastructure;
the administration of the Act under the control of the National Commissioner as well as the functions of the National Commissioner in relation to the Act;
the establishment of committees and their functions;
powers and duties of persons in control of critical infrastructure;
the designation and functions of inspectors;
reporting obligations; to provide for transitional arrangements;
the repeal of the National Key Points Act, 1980, and related laws; and
Nigeria’s ICT infrastructure stakeholders have since 2011, been canvassing the need for a Critical National Infrastructure Bill that will protect telecoms infrastructure in the country.
They had followed their call by drafting a document that was sent to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Communications for ratification and onward transmission to the National Assembly.
The bill was sent to the eight National Assembly, but it could not pass it before the expiration of their tenure in May 2019 and now the industry is looking forward to the 9thAssembly to pass the bill.
The NCC has at various times called on the national assembly to pass the critical Infrastructure Bill to address the issue of vandalisation and theft of telecommunication infrastructure in the industry. The NCC believed that if this is done, it will also help to tackle the problem of poor quality of service that has defied every measures adopted in the country.
The Association of Licensed Telcom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has been at the forefront in calling for the enactment of the bill, since 2011.