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Absence of data protection law delaying W’Bank funds

The Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital Identification for Development, Solomon Odole, has disclosed that the financiers of the Nigeria Digital ID4D Project have made the enactment of the data protection law a prerequisite for release of identity funds.

The financiers for this project include: the World Bank, the French Development Agency and the European Investment Bank.

He made this disclosure during a workshop on the draft Data Protection Bill for members of the ICT and Cybersecurity Committee of the National Assembly in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “One of the major tasks of the project is to strengthen the legal and institutional framework, which has to do with our laws and regulations, in which data protection is actually key.

“The data protection law or enactment is a disbursement condition of the project. It simply means we cannot do certain things, like explore the area of identity, until the data protection law is enacted. It is as a result of this that our financiers, the donors to this project, the World Bank, French Development Agency and the European Investment Bank have made data protection as a disbursement condition. So, it is a condition that has to be fulfilled before the release of funds for identity.

“That is why we have been working with the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau to see how we can work together to ensure the enactment of this bill.”

He further stressed the need for collaboration among all relevant stakeholders to ensure seamless enactment of the data protection law.

In February 2020, it was reported that the Nigeria’s digital identity ecosystem project, along with five others, had been approved by the World Bank.

The approved projects, valued at $2.2bn, were aimed at assisting the country to empower citizens, especially marginalised groups, to access welfare-enhancing services.

The national digital identity ecosystem project was designed to enhance the national Identity system’s legal and technical safeguards to protect personal data and privacy.

Among the projects approved was the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development Project.

This project was to be financed through the World Bank’s International Development Association credit of $115m alongside co-financing of $100m from the French Agency for Development and $215m from the European Investment Bank.

Also speaking at the workshop was the Chief Executive Officer of NDPB, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, who said that the data protection bill should reach the National Assembly as an executive bill by October this year.

He said, “By October, we will send the bill to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, who will forward it to the Federal Executive Council for it to be sent as an executive bill to the National Assembly.”

In an earlier exclusive interview with the PUNCH in July this year, the NDPB CEO had said that the bill would be passed before December 2022.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information Communication Technology and Cybercrime, Yakubu Useni, assured that the members of the National Assembly would do justice to the bill and ensure that the President got the bill within a month.

In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, stressed the need for data protection law, which he said was a necessity due to the large amount of data collated by the National Identity Management Commission and other data processors.

He added, “This bill will ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the data of our citizens.”

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