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What Nigeria needs to do to grow its internet

By , ITWeb
Nigeria , 01 Nov 2016

What Nigeria needs to do to grow its internet

Currently at 47%, Nigeria's level of internet penetration will continue to increase in the next few years, driven by mobile phones with data connections and will reach the 50% mark before 2018 and inch closer to 70% by 2020 says Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN).

Sesan says, "The Nigerian government has invested in mass surveillance equipment even though there are no data privacy laws or any other safeguards to check against abuse. This has to change for Nigeria to have improved levels of internet freedom. In addition to that, (the) Cybercrime Act 2015 and other laws that have clauses (open) to abuse should be amended for clarity."

Some of these laws are featured on PIN's State of the Nation report which lists bills it believes ought not to become law in order to prevent further abuse.

Sesan added: "To get on the path of almost irreversible internet freedom, Nigeria needs to pass the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill into law."

This Bill, amongst other things, seeks to provide human rights online and protect internet users from any infringement on their fundamental freedoms.

Sesan believes ICT can grow bigger in Nigeria and agrees with a recent comment by the country's Minister for Communication, Adebayo Shittu, that Nigeria had become a major investment destination for investors in ICT in Africa and around the world because "Africa is an unsaturated market and the number for Nigeria is appealing."

He said: "That's not as important as the stories coming out of Yaba and other locations though. There are so many problems that can use ICT solutions, so even if it takes investors that are willing to bear more risk, the opportunities are immense."

PIN Nigeria recently picked up a data security issue with the Nigerian electoral body INEC for transferring voter's data to a third party without their real consent.

The ICT advocacy group's request to make details of its data transaction with the third party is yet to be resolved because, according to Sesan, INEC had sought additional information regarding the matter after PIN's correspondence dated 19 September and a 7-day response period. PIN is awaiting final feedback before possibly proceeding with legal action.

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