The data protection industry in the country would improve the economy by creating 500,000 jobs in the next few years.
The Chief Executive Officer of DSPL, a licensed data protection compliance organisation (DPCO) in Nigeria, Tunde Balogun made the projection recently.
Balogun disclosed that the industry which sprang up last year with the enforcement of Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) has created jobs for over 2,000 people under a year.
The convener of the Association of Licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisations of Nigeria (ALDAPCON), Balogun said the federal government had taken the right step by coming up with data protection regulation before pushing for a digital economy.
According to him, the digital economy, especially in a country like Nigeria where there is a high level of poverty and high level of illiteracy can only thrive on disruptive technologies which sit on data protection.
“Data protection is the foundation of the digital economy in the real sense that if data protection in any jurisdiction is not well implemented and taken seriously, any digital project you put on it will collapse,” he said.
While noting that the implementation of data protection in Nigeria currently faces the challenge of limited local expertise, he said Nigeria may not be alone as data protection is relatively new globally.
“Data Protection all over the world is new; more new in Nigeria and I can tell you that we have got only a few people that have got the professional certification, but they haven’t got the hands-on experience yet, they’ve only gone for the certification exam as a data protection officer.
“But apart from that the capacity in Nigeria is very light. So, because of that, you can see some of the people in the industry wants to take it from the main focus, or they’re diluting it with something else because they don’t have an in-depth understanding of what data protection is”, he said.
However, Balogun said ALDAPCON comprising 72 licensed DCPos is considering the establishment of a data protection Institute to address the shortage of local capacity. “So far, within the last one year, we’ve employed over 2000 people in the industry; we’ve created over 2000 new jobs. And the projection is to create close to about half a million jobs in the industry in the next few years.
“So, how do we develop that capacity? We have a two-pronged approach: Having an institute, developing our curriculum and creating certification programmes, so that people can come in acquire knowledge about the discipline, and then go into the industry to provide their services.
“The second one is collaborating with higher institutions, maybe Universities or polytechnics to see how they can start data protection as a course of study. It could be a postgraduate course because it is quite robust on its own and it’s a specialist area. So that’s the strategies we are going to deploy in developing local capacity,” Balogun explained.
While commending the efforts of the immediate past Director-General of NITDA, who is the current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Pantami, for coming up with the NDPR, Balogun noted that Piper, which is a non-governmental organisation that ranks data protection regulation of each country all over the world through colours had given the NDPR Amber, which shows it’s a moderate regulation.
“In Piper’s ranking, Green is for strong regulation; Amber is for moderate, and Red is for weak regulation. NDPR was awarded Amber, which is moderate. There are some advanced countries in the world that their regulation was marked Red; countries that are more advanced than us. So, if you want to look at it, NDPR in terms of comparison to other countries’ regulation is decent,” he said.
Balogun added that in terms of the structure of the implementation, the NDPR is unique in the world. “It is unique in the sense that it creates that layer of licensed firms to help organisations for implementation. There is nowhere in the world where that is done. That uniqueness is a masterstroke, very ingenious by the immediate past DG of NITDA and his team. All other African countries are now looking at our model” he explained.