From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Abdullahi, has restated the deadline of March 15 for data controllers and processors in the country to file of their Annual Data Audit Report.
The DG who emphasized this while during the commencement of the 2021 Data Protection Week, also said the agency will do more to protect Nigerian’s data privacy, as well as ensure effective implementation of the National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
He said: ‘Our current efforts at enforcement is salutary but not nearly enough. We are considering all options to ensure we do not kill businesses, while also ensuring businesses do not kill Nigerians through wanton abuse of their data.
‘I want to use this opportunity to remind all data controllers and processors that the deadline for the filing of their annual data audit report is 15th March 2021. Non-filing is a punishable offence and we are set to fully enforce this provision this year.
‘In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s flare for economic diversification and employment creation, he noted that NDPR since inception has generated more jobs and wealth in the Information Technology sector.
‘Our strategy of licensing DPCOs is yielding bounteous fruits as Nigeria now has more data protection experts per capita than any other African country. Our survey also reveals that wealth is being generated through the DPCO scheme. Interestingly, this aligns with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision to diversify the economy, create sustainable jobs and develop the digital economy.’
Speaking on the importance of the this Year’s Data Protection Week, Mr Abdullahi reeled out the journey so far in data protection spanning through 2013 to January 25, 2019, when Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami launched the NDPR policy document.
He explained that data protection is very pivotal in Nigeria’s digital economic drive, and he stressed that this is why data controllers and stakeholders should take the NDPR very seriously. He explained that the regulation is not to stifle business or innovation but to provide a conducive environment for technology investment, indicating that enforcement will be carried out decisively either through fines or blacklisting defaulters.
Stating the extent of data compliance by selected organizations in Nigeria, he revealed that the financial sector takes lead with 35 per cent data protection compliance level according to the 2019-2020 audit report.
‘This strategy has recorded compliance from many organizations than could be imagined. For instance, our audit reports for the period 2019-2020 shows the percentage of compliance among the number of filing entities. These sectors include Financial Services – 35%; Fast Moving Consumer Goods–14%; Energy – 10%; Consultancy – 9%; ICT – 8%; Transport and logistics – 5%; Others – 19%,’ he said.
‘We are also going to rejig our enforcement mechanism to improve compliance. COVID-19 slowed down our enforcement vision in 2020, but we are going to redouble our efforts in this direction as data protection has become a pivot for the continued growth of the digital economy.’
He stated that the agency has resolved to upscale enforcement and compliance to boost trust within the sector.