NIMC identifies conditions to unlock Nigeria’s digital market

Aliyu Abubakar Aziz

The Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, has identified seven key conditions necessary to unlock opportunities and potential in Nigeria’s digital market.

In a paper he presented at the just-concluded eNigeria conference, Aziz stated that Nigeria must establish “the right regulatory and industry policies to encourage infrastructure investment in digital infrastructure,” such as “communications networks (broadband, mobile telecoms, Internet, online e-government and services), and smart cities.”

According to him, the government must “create a stable, predictable and sustainable policy/commercial environment that allows businesses to flourish,” a step that will help in unlocking the country’s digital market thereby allowing the economy to grow.

Although Nigeria’s population currently at almost 200 million presents a huge potential, Aziz argues that government needs to put in place focused programmes, to “stimulate demand for digital solutions through the promotion of digital skills, digital local content and support for local digital applications,” for the opportunities to be fully harnessed.

Speaking further, he said government needs to “encourage and implement digital services across all sectors of the economy,” and “establish economy platforms such as ecommerce, online markets, and entrepreneurship ecosystem” thereby encourage “tech-enabled businesses to turn creativity into value-creating online businesses.”

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His words: “We must introduce digital literacy in our school curriculum (primary, secondary, etc.) as this will bring about digital skill critical for digital interaction.”

Over all, Aziz said the provision of “digital identity to everyone in the country – thereby proving ‘who is who’ is “critical to accessing services physically or electronically.”

Stressing on identification, which is the main responsibility and mandate of NIMC, Aziz reminded the audience that one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the United Nations set out as blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, demands that nations provide legal identity for all including birth registration by Year 2030.

“From the above, it is very clear that identification plays an important role in enabling the achievement of other SDG targets, such as social protection, rights to economic resources, land and property as well as universal health coverage,” he stated.

As a strategy to fast-track the enrolment of citizens and provide them legal identification, NIMC has stepped up its operations, which has seen the enrolment figure with the unique National Identification Number (NIN) now at over 33 million, astronomically up from just seven million three years ago.

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On September 12, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the immediate commencement of the implementation of a strategic roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem in Nigeria, a step that will further boost enrolment across the country, more so as government has set the enforcement of the mandatory use of the NIN for January 1, 2019.

The digital identity Ecosystem is a framework that leverages on the existing capabilities and infrastructure of distinct government agencies and private sector organisations to carry out enrolment of Nigerians and Legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) as well as issuance of the Digital identity, known as the NIN to give Nigeria a credible and robust identity management system.

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