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Digital Trade: NITDA, World Bank collaborate to accelerate cross-border data services

Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of NITDA, Presenting a copy of the Agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan 2024-2027 to Representatives of the World Bank and World Trade Organisation, Washington, D.C. Office, Aleksandar Stojanor and Dr. Maryam  Lawal for the Digital Trade Engagement      Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, discloses the engagement focused on fostering deep collaboration between the agency and the World Bank to enhance digital trade, cross-border data services and sharing ideas on developing regulatory policies

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As part of the agency’s ongoing efforts at ushering Nigeria into a future where digital technology and economic growth accelerate marked development, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says it is set to collaborate with the World Bank and World Trade Organisation to implement the presidential priority areas.

These areas encompass reforming the economy for sustained inclusive growth, as well as accelerating diversification through industrialisation and digitisation.

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of NITDA, stated this recently, when he played host to a delegation from the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, led by Mr. Aleksandar Stojanov at the agency’s corporate headquarters, in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect reports NITDA disclosed the meeting focused on fostering deep collaboration between the two organisations to enhance digital trade, cross-border data services and sharing ideas on developing regulatory policies that would accelerate economic growth through technological innovations.

Speaking on the NITDA’s plan to review most of its extant regulations, Inuwa outlined the agency’s comprehensive plans and encapsulated the agency’s newly recrafted Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0 for 2024-2027 as part of efforts towards implementing the presidential Renewed Hope priority areas in enhancing the country’s digital economy.

The Director-General of the Information Technology (IT) sector regulatory agency said: “We started with recrafting our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan 2.0 for 2024-2027, which has 8 strategic pillars among which is Strengthening Policy Implementation and Legal Framework and what we need to put in place to make sure we create an enabling environment for the digital economy and digital trade.”

He further highlighted key regulatory advancements, revealing that NITDA is about establishing a National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

According to him, PKI will underpin Nigeria’s electronic signature framework.

The framework’s development has involved extensive research into international best practices and substantial investment in necessary infrastructure, stated Inuwa.

In respect of the agency’s legal advancements, the NITDA Chief Executive said efforts were underway to push for the enactment of a comprehensive digital economy bill that would incorporate the electronic signature framework and other critical regulatory instruments.

He also emphasised the importance of Blockchain Technology in enhancing the security and efficiency of digital transactions in the country’s ecosystem.

Inuwa as well averred that a broader Blockchain policy is being developed, particularly to focus on the implementation of smart contracts.

As regards the upcoming data exchange platform designed to streamline and enhance messaging systems, the Director-General of NITDA stated: “We have the Nigerian Data Strategy which will create a balance between the protection and the viability of open data to promote innovation.

“Because even within the country, we need to allow people to have access to open data for them to innovate and for decision-making.”

He stressed the Regulatory Department of NITDA is working on streamlining its regulations to address the plethora of existing regulatory instruments to tackle major challenges effectively.

He equally underscored the necessity of digitalising Nigeria’s single window and customs procedures.

Inuwa asserted that NITDA is actively participating in cross-border digital trade protocols, the measure that he noted has been enhancing Nigeria’s role in the global digital economy.

He further explained: “The EU just developed a Cyber Resilience Act which covers all these software and hardware testing issues, so we can also have one instrument that can look at the cyber resilience, the software, hardware, firmware issues and even the national cyber security architecture could be part of that.”

Inuwa expressed NITDA’s willingness to collaborate with individuals, organisations and experts, to refine and implement all these strategic initiatives in optimising Nigeria’s digital landscape.

Earlier in his remarks at the meeting, Mr Stojanov had shared the global lender’s initial findings from the digital trade regulatory gap analysis, conducted by the World Bank on the African continent, particularly in Nigeria, and how regulations could play a critical role in enhancing it.

He, however, gave assurances of the World Bank to collaborate and support NITDA in propelling digital trade and cross-border data services in Nigeria.

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