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NCC, others seek domestication of data policy to boost digital economy

5G, 6G increases risk of cyberattacks — NCC

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has stressed the need for African countries to domesticate data policy frameworks to drive effective participation in the global digital economy and society.

Mistura Aruna, the head of corporate services, Universal Service Provision Fund, NCC, disclosed this during the opening of the 11th African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) in Abuja on Thursday.

According to her, it has become imperative for African leaders to leverage the digital space as a critical tool in creating new business opportunities, increasing efficiency, and contributing to sustainable development.

“I would like to state that African countries have realised the huge potential of a robust digital economy to create new business opportunities, increase efficiency, contribute to sustainable development and reshape people’s lives.

“The data policy framework was derived from the Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) adopted by the African Union in 2020 to transform African societies and economies in a manner that allows the continent and its member states to harness digital technologies for local innovation that will improve life opportunities, reduce poverty, inequality and facilitate the delivery of goods and services.

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“This framework sets out a common vision, principles, strategic priorities and key recommendations to guide African countries in developing their national data systems and capabilities to effectively use and derive value from data.

“It is worthy to bear in mind that the domestication of the framework by African countries and the implementation of its key recommendations will position Africa as a strong partner and will enable African youth to participate and thrive in the global digital economy and society.”

Aruna, speaking further, stated that the commission remained committed to ensuring the deployment of robust infrastructure, availability, accessibility, and affordability of Internet for all, through an inclusive stakeholder engagement process.

In her remarks, Anriette Esterhuyuer, a representative from the Association for Progressive Communications, said that the forum sought to empower leaders in the different spheres of the economy, with skills relevant to the global digital economy.

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She explained that the AfriSIG, which has been going for 11 years, brings together people in leadership roles in internet policy, telecommunications policy and regulation.

“What makes this different from any other learning event is that it is multi-stakeholder. So, we have people here who are human rights defenders, and then we have people who are members of parliament. We have some that are senior staff of ministries of communication. Some are journalists. And so, people who often do not agree don’t see things from the same perspective. But without this diversity of perspectives, we cannot really have a stable or healthy internet policy environment.

“This year, we are working on the African Union Data Policy Framework, which is a new framework that member states agreed to in 2022 in Addis Ababa, but now this framework needs to be implemented. And it needs to be implemented at national and sub-regional levels. Otherwise, it just stays in Addis.

For Adeboye Adegoke, co-partner of AfriSIG, the forum is aimed to provide the platform for relevant parties to deliberate on roles in curbing cybercrime and other challenges of internet users.

“For example, you expect that the government has responsibility in terms of law enforcement, and putting laws in place, civil society also has responsibility in terms of educating the public on cybercrime while working together with the government.

“This collaboration is needed to ensure that laws introduced do not become a tool to repress citizens’ freedom because that’s what usually happens. You’re trying to solve a problem, then you create a new problem,” he said.