Digital Trade: World Bank To Collaborate With Nigeria On Data Service

To enhance Nigeria’s chances in international trade, especially with regard to digital services, the World Bank has promised to work with the Federal Government in the area of data services. The promise is hinged on an earlier findings by the global lender as it relates to regulatory gaps.

Disclosing this yesterday in Abuja, Mr. Aleksandar Stojanov, who led a team from the bank and World Trade Organisation (WTO), shared their initial findings from the digital trade regulatory gap analysis conducted by the World Bank on the continent, particularly in Nigeria and how regulations can play a critical role in enhancing it. He, however, gave assurances of the World Bank’s eagerness to collaborate and support the Federal Government through National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in propelling digital trade and cross-border data services.

An earlier report on Digital Trade Regulatory Integration on Nigeria by the United Nations Economic for Africa revealed that in late 2020, the Economic Commission for Africa, through African Trade Policy Centre, launched an initiative on digital trade regulatory integration in Africa, among others. The report indicated that Nigeria needed to prioritise reducing the restrictions on digital trade and services. The rationale underlying the present study is that having lower barriers for digital trade and more network openness will facilitate digital trade integration.

Speaking on the bank’s collaboration, the NITDA Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, who received the team, outlined the agency’s comprehensive plans and encapsulated the agency’s newly re-crafted Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0 for 2024-2027 as part of efforts toward implementing the presidential renewed hope priority areas in enhancing the country’s digital economy.

“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 noted. He further highlighted key regulatory advancements and revealed that NITDA is at an advanced stage of establishing a National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) which will underpin the nation’s electronic signature framework.

He disclosed that the framework’s development has involved extensive research into international best practices and substantial investment in necessary infrastructure. Noting the agency’s legal advancements, the NITDA DG said that efforts are underway to push for the enactment of a comprehensive digital economy bill that will incorporate the electronic signature framework and other critical regulatory instruments.

While emphasising the importance of blockchain technology in enhancing the security and efficiency of digital transactions, he averred that a broader blockchain policy is being developed, particularly to focus on the implementation of smart contracts. Enunciating the upcoming data exchange platform designed to streamline and enhance messaging systems, Inuwa said: “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.”

The DG disclosed that NITDA’s regulatory department is working on streamlining its regulations in addressing the plethora of existing regulatory instruments to tackle major challenges effectively. While underscoring the necessity of digitalising Nigeria’s single window and customs procedures, he asserted that NITDA is actively participating in cross-border digital trade protocols which has been enhancing Nigeria’s role in the global digital economy.

“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” he opined. He expressed the agency’s willingness to collaborate with individuals, organisations and experts to refine and implement all these strategic initiatives in optimising Nigeria’s digital landscape.

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To enhance Nigeria’s chances in international trade, especially with regard to digital …