Government to unbundle ICT infrastructure for economic growth
To partner agencies in curbing cybercrimes
The Ministry of Communications is drafting a bill to unbundle Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure with a view to boosting the national economy.
The draft bill is aimed at increasing private participation in ICT, which will lead to increase in revenue generation.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this on Monday, while delivering a keynote at the National Computer Science Conference on Cyber Security and The Emerging African Economies, at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, noted that the unbundling became necessary, considering the fact that ICT could compete favourably with oil and gas sector in terms of job and wealth creation for the country.
“However, one of the major challenges confronting the development of the sector is obsolete laws. The country needs to review these laws and also invest more in the sector in order to unlock the huge potentials therein,” he stated.
In addition to other measures, the Minister reiterated plans to convert the Digital Bridge Institute into a Multi-Campus ICT University; perhaps the first of its kind in Africa. He regretted that Nigeria does not have a dedicated institution for ICT awarding degrees.
“We believe that ICT goes beyond Computer Science as a course. Government will re-engineer the economy by promoting and encouraging ICT entrepreneurship to stimulate the nation’s economy. Government will also stimulate the economy through the provision of ICT based services, and will make deliberate efforts to adopt the use of ICT in every aspect of our endeavours in order to improve efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in service delivery and business transactions generally. Government will like to see more small and medium-sized ICT enterprises come up with solutions to the myriad of challenges that we face as a nation,” he stated.
On the theme of the event, Adebayo said expressed the readiness of the ministry to partner with agencies to catalyse and develop world-class human and institutional capacity in cyber security for the country.
He said the ministry is living up to expectation of sensitising, raising awareness and impact skills on cyber protection by creating the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to handle computer security incidents and examining the implementation framework of the Cybersecurity Act with amendments where necessary in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), stressing that there is the need for other frameworks across all strata of public and private sectors to arrest the spreading crime.
“The need for other frameworks like cyber security awareness across business and members of the public; cooperative arrangements between law enforcement and communication service provider across the nation and a criminal justice system that facilitate the efficient prosecution of cases of cybercrime are very germane,” he said.
The minister, who noted that Nigeria currently loses about N78 billion yearly to the activities of cyber criminals, who target financial institutions, and government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as their affiliates, emphasized the need for the enactment and enforcement of policies to ensure cyber security within the ICT and financial institutions.
He said such policies should address the framework of cyber risk management, enforcing security through a ‘defense in-depth’ strategy as well as enforcing vigilance through early detection and signaling system.
Speaking on the indispensability of the cyberspace to global development, Shittu said the Internet and digital technologies are the biggest transformational forces in the world today with over five billion Internet-connected devices globally generating over $ 10 billion to the global economy in 2015.
In comparison to physical space, he noted that cyberspace is virtually co-ubiquitous, operationally more efficient, socio-politically more vibrant, economically as resourceful, and information-wise more integrated and has become a fundamental feature of the world we live in.
“The changing nature of economic and territorial threats has become a major concern. The growing role of cyberspace has opened up new threats as well as new opportunities as a country, we have to find ways to confront and overcome these threats if we are to remain functional as a sovereign entity in an increasingly competitive and globalised world,” said the minister.
He added that recently, an agency under his ministry, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), informed the public that Nigeria lost about N159 billion in the last 13 years to cybercrime, he said the ministry is leveraging the active support of the ICT stakeholders by building all requisite ICT and cyberspace capacities in the country.
This, he said “is in line with the repeated assertion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration that ICT is the envisaged bedrock of Nigeria’s Change Agenda.”
The minister, therefore, charged leaders of African countries to urgently scale up efforts to combat cybercrimes through a multi-stakeholders approach involving government, industry and civil society organisations within the context of the African Union Convention on Cyberspace Security and Protection of Personal Data to stem the threats posed by cybercriminals to their national economic security.