The growth of the internet and the even more pervasive use of smart phones with some over 4 billion users worldwide has transformed telecommunications and brought a myriad of benefits for the social, cultural, political and economic life of people everywhere.
Today, there are available statistics to show that Africa is no doubt, in the throes of a technological revolution, leap frogging computers in favour of internet connections through mobile devices. In fact, a fifth of the continent of Africa is now said to have access to broadband connection, a figure predicted to triple in the next three years. The rate of increase in connectivity is incredible. Nigeria had approximately 90 million internet users in 2016.
From what the new media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and their likes are doing, the technology disruptions in the financial sector, the revolution in the banking sector occasioned by mobile banking and cashless regime, the springing up of tech hubs and startup incubators across major cities, there seems to be a renaissance of the continent hitherto considered technologically marginalized. The internet has brought enormous benefits to humankind; however, it has also extended the reach of malignant forces.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2018 cybersecurity conference with the theme “Cybersecurity: the implications of disruptive technologies on national security and economy” organized by the Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime in Abuja, the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, identified cyber as the new frontier, saying though it has brought a lot of development in various sectors of the economy, it also had provided opportunities for dark forces to exploit their capabilities for malicious ends.
He noted that with the advent of cyber, governments all around the world are grappling with a security environment that has never been more complex or multi-layered.
Giving the Federal Government’s efforts at protecting Nigeria’s cyberspace, the minister said the ICT Roadmap 2017-2020 and the Cybercrime Act 2015, committed Nigeria to an ambitious, proactive, strategic and diplomatic agenda to ensure the deployment, utilization of ICTs and safe and secure cyberspace.
“It would be recalled that on August 24, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari, issued a presidential directive for implementation of the policy framework and national action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism. The policy is aimed at mainstreaming peace building into national efforts in dealing with violent extremism. We are currently working with the ONSA for safer and resilient communities. We are partnering with ONSA to ensure full implementation of this policy framework and national action plan.
“I am particularly happy that this conference has been carefully planned to stimulate conversations towards helping organisations and agencies appreciate their enormous responsibilities in the digital space, and preparing them to adequately participate in ensuring that Nigeria’s security and economy are kept ahead of the ragging dimensions of cyberthreats,” he said.
Earlier, the chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari said one of the objectives of the 2nd legislative–stakeholders conference on cyber security was to get inputs of stakeholders on the cybercrime law signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan shortly before leaving office in 2015 with the aim of populating it and making it more rich for the nation’s cybersecurity.
He said: “Although it was scanty, the committee picked up part of the law and decided to expand it so it will fit into international standard. With the conference we are doing today, some of the few ideas we have again will be inserted into the bill to make it richer.”
He said from the decisions reached at the conference, the committee would be able to present the bill for second reading and move into public hearing and eventual passage by the National Assembly.
He further disclosed plans by the National Assembly to regulate social media, citing misuse of the platform by many Nigerians as the reason behind the move.
“At the beginning of the Buhari administration when we were trying to bring in a law to regulate the social media, I remember that what we saw at that time was not palatable.
“But now everybody is being attacked particularly on false information. We need to face the reality that if we allow the law to go loose without being regulated, it is going to cause doom particularly in the election year,” he added.
In his goodwill message, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin said there was no better time to brainstorm on the implications of disruptive technologies on the nation’s national security than now, in view of the diverse range of electronic security challenges currently confronting the nation.
Olonisakin who was represented by the Maj-Gen. E.J. Whyte, said there was need for a secured critical national information infrastructure as the nation prepares for a free and fair general elections in 2019.
In his remarks, the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa Ali Pantami Ibrahim, noted that countless opportunities exist in cyberspace for national development and to strengthen the nations resilience, stating that opportunities provided by disruptive technologies were exploited and explored through delicate combination of private sector investment and cutting-edge research and development and effective regulation globally.
Ibrahim who was represented by the agency’s director of standard guidelines and framework, Adejube Olayinka called for a collaboration between the government and private sector towards providing peculiar tools and solutions for Nigerians.
“In addition to working closely with policy makers and legislators to proactively provide an enabling environment for businesses in the multitrillion dollar industry to thrive, the private sector must identify niche areas where they have competitive advantage to provide peculiar tools and solutions for Nigerians. Furthermore, solutions that could solve our negative image in cyberspace should be explored as well as new areas like cyber insurance, which is still in its infancy, for national development,” he added.
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