By Emmanuel Elebeke
The National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA on Friday released five new regulatory instruments to ensure a defined and world best practice for effective and efficient development of Information Technology sector in Nigeria.
The new guidelines are: The Rule Making Process Regulation of NITDA; The Nigerian Data Protection Regulation; Guideline for It Clearance; Guidelines for Public Internet Access and Framework for Use of Social Media in Public Institutions.
Unveiling the new guidelines, the Director General of the agency, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, said the new guidelines will empower NITDA to regulate the use of IT and operations of social media in public places.
He said the agency’s team painstakingly and tirelessly researched and consulted widely during the development of these instruments, hence the reflection of the documents and signaling of the direction of Government for development of IT in Nigeria.
According to the DG, the move was in line with the new thinking of his administration to focus on regulation and guidelines in 2019 with a view to ensure greater development of the nation’s IT sector, assuring that some of the guidelines would result in an exceptional increase in the patronage of locally assembled devices.
‘‘This is unprecedented in the history of the country and this is expected to continue to grow significantly in the coming years.
‘‘On assumption of office, we realized that the Agency did not have any instrument that stipulates a clear process for rule making for issuance of Frameworks, Standards and Guidelines.
‘‘This effort is to ensure a defined, best practice approach to rule making is utilized by NITDA to develop sound instruments for regulation of IT.
‘‘We also anticipate that the public will now understand all the processes involved in issuance of regulatory documents by the Agency. This policy also creates platforms for public engagement in the issuance of regulatory documents by the Agency.
‘‘From this point henceforth, NITDA will be generally bound by the Rule-making Process as an integral part of the operations of the Agency.
‘‘These efforts resulted in an exceptional increase in the patronage of locally assembled devices. Records have shown that in 2015, Indigenous Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) sold 98,224 devices in 2015, 154,424 in 2016 and 355,647 in 2017.’’
According to the agency, the new guidelines came into effect following their signing on Friday, stating that the Agency has taken its regulatory responsibility seriously, and in 2019 and will ensure that violators of NITDA’s Regulatory Instruments are appropriately sanctioned in line with the NITDA Act.
‘‘Our Standards, Frameworks and Guidelines are regulatory policies and are not issued for the sake of being relevant. The IT sector cannot be effectively developed without relevant rules and regulations creating certain level of uniformity, consistency and careful investments in the right type of technology systems needed in a country such as ours.
‘‘We are also encouraging innovation as we shall soon issue directives to encourage MDAs to use emerging technologies like cloud computing, blockchain and various other platforms for big data analytics,’’ he added.
He therefore encouraged all public institutions to comply with the new guidelines in the procurement and utilization of their IT equipment, warning that the agency would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any defaulter.