Nigeria to explore cyberspace opportunities to boost economy

By Timothy Choji, Abuja

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President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria can pave way for the creation of new opportunities through a prosperous cyberspace and digital economy.

He made the declaration on Tuesday in Abuja, at the launch of the country’s National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He called for an improvement of the national strategy on cyber security, urging more emphasis on exploring the internet for economic growth opportunities, enhancement of knowledge and mitigation of crime.

“I urge the National Security Adviser to continue to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to ensure that our Internet and cyberspace are used   for   the   enhancement   of   national   security   and   economic progression,’’ the President said at the launch of the.

“I am confident that, together, we can pave the way for the creation of new opportunities to usher Nigeria into a bright future driven by a prosperous cyberspace and digital economy,’’ he said.

The President noted that the Federal Government had taken some major policy decisions to increase penetration of the internet in the daily lives of citizens, particularly for the utilitarian purpose, with launch of National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 in March 2020; National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020 – 2030; National Identity Program, Treasury Single Account and  Bank Verification Number schemes.

“All   these   initiatives   serve   as   enablers   for   tackling     many of the economic and security challenges facing our country while also providing us with the platform to improve accountability and transparency in our unwavering resolve to tackle corruption.

“However, like many other countries across the globe, the growth and development of the internet is accompanied by significant problems. We   are   witnessing   a   rise   in   threats   posed   by   cybercriminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists who use the internet to cause apprehension,’’ the President said.

Challenges
He said the internet and social media have witnessed a surge in terms of propagation of hate speech, fake news, seditious and treasonable messages, and has risks of breaches to personal information and government sensitive data.

He said: “It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges. Some global events such as the rapid emergence of new technologies, the outbreak of   the   COVID-19   pandemic   and   the   advent   of   5G technology, have further widened the scope and diversification of these cyber threats.

“In October 2020, we all witnessed an escalation in the use of the social media for dissemination of subversive messages and incitement of violence which played a part in heightening tensions, causing unrest and   spurring   widespread   acts   of   looting   and   destruction across the country.’’

President Buhari said the Federal Government had been proactive, over   the   past   couple   of   years, in   taking steps to ensure progressive use of internet and cyberspace.

“In 2014, the maiden National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy was developed to provide the necessary roadmap for the realisation of our national cybersecurity programme. This national effort paved way for Nigeria to reach numerous cybersecurity milestones over the past six years.

“Therefore,  in   order  to  build  on   this   achievement   and  reposition ourselves for enhanced engagement in cyberspace, it became expedient to   review   the   National   Cybersecurity   Policy   and   Strategy   2014  and develop a comprehensive National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy by 2021 for the common good of our country,” he stated.

According to the President, the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 would provide the necessary platform to effectively confront the dynamic nature of   threats   in   the  cyberspace.

“The   document   will   also   provide   the framework that would enable us to harness the efforts of our private sector, academia and industry towards progressive economic and national development.

“To this end, the document will provide the platform for technical education, digital   skills   acquisition   and   indigenous technology production,   thereby   creating   job   opportunities   for   our   youth   and supporting our resolve to alleviate poverty and boost our economy,’’ he said.

The National Security Adviser, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, said there had been a surge in the use of the internet, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown around the world, with increasing waves of crimes, irregular migration and threats to border security.

The NSA noted that many platforms including banking, communication and military had come under more threat, with personal information easily distorted and explored, necessitating a review of the 2014 National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS).

He said the reviewed document would work towards mitigating the “suffocating presence and unpredictable threats’’ of cybercrimes.

The event was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police among others.

Lateefah Ibrahim

 

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