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FG backs digital economy, e-governance bill

Minister of Communications Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijjani, has said that the National Digital Economy and e-Governance Bill before the National Assembly, when passed into law will help to transform the Nigerian economy and put it on the pedestal of global competitiveness.

The Guardian reports that the Bill scaled through its first reading at the House of Representatives on Monday.

The Bill, which was sponsored by the Chairman of the House Committee on Digital and Information Technology, Adedeji Olajide, aims to provide a legal framework for the development and regulation of the digital economy and e-governance in Nigeria.

The Bill will also ensure that digital documents are recognised and are admissible in the courts and will address the issue of the originality of documents, provide a framework for digital contract and digital signatures and ensure that the rights of consumers are protected when they purchase items online.

Speaking at the media engagement on the Bill on Wednesday, in the presence of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on ICT and Cyber Security, Shuaibu Salisu, and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on ICT and Cyber Security, Stanley Adedeji, the minister observed that the Bill will support the growth and transformation of the Nigerian economy through the application and the use of digital technology in all facets of life.

He noted that the digital economy sector in Nigeria is projected to generate about $18.3 billion for the Nigerian economy, an indication of the sector’s critical role to the country, adding that the bill which is in its second reading will enhance its capacity and attract more investment.

He noted in his speech that the digital economy sector is the backbone of any economy.

He said that Nigeria is one of the top two destinations for capital and foreign direct investment on the African continent, adding that the bill will accelerate the progress in the nation’s digital economy sector.

According to him, the content of the updated bill, which is the first of its kind, will be available by July 23, 2024 amid efforts to sensitise the public across the states on the objectives and benefits of the bill.

The minister said: “We promised to support this bill and our hope is that it will be the first to travel across the entire country. It is also supported by the World Bank; therefore we have to ensure that we take this bill to every state in Nigeria.”

He said the Nigerian digital landscape is replete with thriving indigenous companies which fall within the classification of companies that are worth a billion dollars.

He added that the vibrancy of these companies in not just generating billions of dollars but in creating quality jobs is an indication of a thriving digital economy which when incentivised with a legislative framework can boost the economy further.

“The bill has the potential to unlock opportunities and raise productivity in every other sector. If the digital economy is strong, it will catalyse development and progress in for instance education. We can use technology to better educate our people to create jobs for our young people. The Bill is important for all of our people and we want to give them the opportunity to review it. We believe in the bill. This bill will create the enabling environment for fair competition, to promote innovation, growth and competitiveness in the Nigerian economy

“Nigeria is the future of the world because of our young population, but we must strengthen the digital sector with more investment,” the minister added.

Also speaking, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, said it will serve as an enabler to achieve the goals that have been designed for Nigerians under President Bola Tinubu’s government and position in Nigeria as a key player in global digital landscape.

Represented by Acting Director for Standards Guidance and Framework of NITDA, Mr Emmanuel Edet, Inuwa said: “The essence of the bill is to enhance the digital economy in Nigeria, especially in government and the private sector. The ecosystem is booming and there is the need for us to harness the potential of this ecosystem in order to drive the economic desires based on the advantages we have in terms of capacity and in terms of other facilities that are available.”

Author

  • Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze

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