FG creates Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, awaits NASS on Startup bill

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy said it is currently waiting for the National Assembly (NASS) to pass the Startup Bill currently with them.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, disclosed this to journalists on the sidelines of the LEAP 2022 technology and exhibition conference, organised by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications Technology, in Riyadh.

Pantami, who is optimistic about the development the bill would bring to the startup ecosystem in Nigeria when it becomes a law, said, “we are done with the Startup bill in the Federal Executive Council; it has been approved. I personally spoke with the Attorney General of the Federation after the FEC meeting and used that opportunity to convey a letter to him that FEC has approved, even though he is a member, but that is the process.

“He told me that the bill has been conveyed to the National Assembly (NASS). It is now left for the NASS to stamp their proceedings on the bill. But we are optimistic and very committed that the bill is going to be approved by this administration so that we can start the implementation immediately.”

The Minister, who said the new bill, if passed into law, will create an enabling environment for Nigerian startups, further said that the bill contains provisions that allow easy access to grants including a Startup Investment Safe Fund for young innovators who can apply for government sponsorship of their ideas.

MEANWHILE, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a new government agency, the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB).  The establishment of the agency followed a request made by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Pantami.

In a statement issued on behalf of Pantami, Uwa Suleiman, his media aide, said the NDPB was established in line with global best practices and would focus on data protection and privacy for the country, among others.

He said the successful implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria has significantly increased the adoption of data platforms and accelerated the ‘datafication’ of the country.

“This has increased the importance of having an institution that focuses on data protection and privacy,” he said.

“Furthermore, the issuance of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) in January 2019, as a subsidiary legislation to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act 2007, has increased awareness about the need for data protection and privacy.

“The Bureau will be responsible for consolidating the gains of the NDPR and supporting the process for the development of a primary legislation for data protection and privacy.”

Buhari also approved the recommendation of Pantami, for Dr. Vincent Olatunji to serve as the National Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the Bureau.

Dr. Olatunji hails from Ekiti State and, at the time of his appointment, was the Director of the eGovernment Development and Regulations Department at NITDA. The appointment takes effect immediately, according to the statement.

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