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e-Rights Project: NCC, NITDA, others partner ASF France on digital techs, quality life for Nigerians

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

*Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, discloses the project is meant to promote human rights, and transform the country into a leading digital economy by providing quality life and strengthening consumer confidence in application of digital technologies

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In order to deepen strengthen consumer confidence in the use of digital technologies cum digital economy in line with the soft infrastructure pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) have indicated readiness to partner with Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) France to protect Nigerians’ digital rights.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, and Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General/CEO of NITDA, gave the assurance Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the launch of e-Rights Project by ASF France, in Abuja, FCT.

The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) assures the regulatory agencies also would support ASF France, also known as Lawyers Without Borders France, on achieving the objectives of the project, agency report said.

Lawyers Without Borders France, was in partnership with Centre for Technology and Development (CITAD) and Spaces for Change (S4C) organised the event.

Speaking at the project launch, Prof. Danbatta, represented by Mr. Chidi Dingwu, Head of New Media and Information Security at NCC, said the project was the latest intervention in promoting the fulfilment of human rights in Nigeria.

Project in line with soft infrastructure pillar of NDEPS: Danbatta

The NCC Executive Vice-Chairman stated: “To transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy providing quality life and digital economies for all, it is imperative that we strengthen the people’s confidence in the use of digital technologies, and involvement in the digital economy as stipulated in the soft infrastructure pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030).

Danbatta also explained this pillar of the NDEPS addresses the importance of cybersecurity, digital rights, data protection and privacy frameworks and guidelines that encourage citizens to embrace the opportunities, which digital technologies offer with a view to repositioning the Nigerian economy.

He noted since the digital and other user rights in communications and electronic media are becoming more significant in the society as technology advances, there is a need to protect these rights in the country’s digital space.

The EVC/CEO of the telecoms regulatory Commission further stated: “The event is an acknowledgement of the drive of ASF France to promote the rights of individuals to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection as they engage online.”

According to Danbatta, as Nigeria intensifies effort at boosting consumer confidence and trust in the West African country’s digital economy through fruitful deliberations and conversations, all hands must be on deck to safeguard the citizens’ rights to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, in the context of digital technologies, especially the Internet.

Protection of consumers’ digital rights imperative -NITDA CEO

Malam Abdullahi, represented on the occasion by Mr. Emmanuel Edet, Head of Legal Unit at NITDA, referencing recent statistics, said about 84 million Nigerians had access to Internet.

The Director-General stated this development indicated that the number of Internet users in the country had grown astronomically.

He noted hence, the need for the protection of consumers’ digital rights could not be over-emphasised.

Abdullahi also advocated the need for every stakeholder to collaborate to ensure that digital space is safe in the Nigerian cyberspace.

NITDA is working with NCC and others to develop child rights protection in the digital space, he stated.

Abdullahi as well declared that he aligned totally with the e-Rights Project towards ensuring that this is adequately and properly applied in the country.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Anthony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of NHRC, said he was always inclined to associate with any programme aimed at protecting the human rights.

“So there is the need to address the challenges and annex the potential of digital space,” stated he.

Ojukwu agreed there is a need for legislation that will help safeguard the digital space in the country.

In his address at the event, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, CEO of NDPB, was quoted to have said with the huge population of Internet users, effort must be made to safeguard consumers’ rights in the digital space.

Olatunji, also represented on the occasion, said as countries across the globe march to the ever-increasing tempo of technological advancement in the 4th Industrial Revolution, the need to safeguard the rights of citizens must be addressed with the keenest sense of equity and justice.

Alexandre Borges-Gomes, Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Nigeria and ECOWAS, observed the new technologies could contribute significantly to the protection and promotion of human rights and democracy and make public participation easier and more effective.

Borges-Gomes, however, noted this could also be abused in the process.

He also said: “In this context, the e-Rights project is strategic because it aims at promoting people’s rights in the digital space in Nigeria.

According to him, digital rights are all about freedom of expression and privacy and an extension of human rights for the internet age.”

Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, Country Director of ASF France, referred to the project as the latest human rights initiative of the organisation funded by the EU.

Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, the project is aimed at enhancing digital rights in Nigeria.

She said the organisation “is canvassing that all the rights that are respected offline to equally be respected online.”

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