It was a harvest of praises at the just concluded ID4Africa Conference, held at Marrakech, Morocco, as Nigeria was singled out for recognition for its leadership role in promoting identification in Africa.
In his opening remarks at the Conference, Executive Chairman of the ID4Africa, Dr. Joseph Atick commended Nigeria for being the first country on the continent to recognize and celebrate September 16 as Identity Day.
He further commended the Federal Government of Nigeria for playing a leadership role in promoting digital identification in Africa.
Atick therefore called on other African countries to emulate Nigeria, even as he charged them to strengthen the legal frameworks for the protection of privacy and human rights.
“I like to update the call to recognize 16 September as identity day, in commemoration of SDG 16.9, which we had first made in 2018. Today, I like to call
on all the relevant African authorities, to officially recognize this day as their identity day. Let us NOT wait for the international community to act at the UN General Assembly. Identity is not a priority for them, it is a priority for Africa and the official recognition of September 16 as identity Day is an effective tool to sensitize the population and mobilize national resources around this important cause. Nigeria
led the continent in this regard, and we applaud them for it. We would love to see the rest of the African countries doing the same.”
“I appeal to you…..to pay careful attention not to erode the trust of the people. Legal frameworks and guardrails for protecting privacy and human rights must be in place and must be a priority not an afterthought,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami announced that Nigeria’s digital identity enrolment was over eighty three (83) million.
On strengthening the legal framework for the protection of citizens’ data, Prof. Pantami explained that “Nigeria already has subsidiary legislation and regulations that protect data.”
According to him, “data privacy and data protection are provided for in the existing laws. Data protection in Nigeria is a constitutional provision.”
He however assured that a Data Protection Law was underway in the country as a way of strengthening already existing frameworks.
“We are presently working on a Principal Legislation on Data Protection in Nigeria.”
Speaking at a panel discussion on communication, Director General of the National Identity Management Commission, Engr. Aliyu Aziz made a case for sustained citizens’ engagement, describing it as critical for success in every identity project.
Adding his voice, Coordinator, Project Implementation Unit of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project, Musa Odole Solomon reiterated the project’s commitment to supporting her partners on achieving increased enrolment in the identification project.
Contributing to the discourse on communication at the conference, the Manager, Internal Communications of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development project, Dr. Walter Duru made a case for institutions of government across Africa to evolve strategies for rumour management.
According to him, “rumour management is an important public relations function that every organisation must take very seriously”, arguing that rumours can trigger trust issues for public and private programmes/projects.
It would be recalled that Nigeria sent a robust delegation to Morocco for the ID4Africa Conference, made up of representatives of relevant state and non state actors.
The Nigerian delegation was supported by the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project, jointly sponsored by the World Bank, European Investment Bank and French Development Agency.