2021 National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy: Enhancing Digital Safety and Economic Growth

The Federal Government launched the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021 on 23, February 2021. The National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 is a follow-up on the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2014.

According to President Muhammadu Buhari, having achieved numerous cybersecurity milestones over the past six years, it became necessary to review the NCPS 2014 so as to reposition the nation for enhanced development.

The internet has shown a lot of potential for Nigeria’s economy. It has opened chains of opportunities for economic growth which many brands and businesses are using to their advantage. An area of global investor confidence in Nigeria for instance is e-commerce.

Nigeria is one of the leading IT markets in Africa following the rapid surge in the development of e-commerce businesses. The country is said to have one of the largest online markets owing to the dynamic development of trusted e-retailers, Jumia and Konga.

While access to the internet is still patchy across the African continent, Nigeria stands as one of Africa’s largest telecommunications markets. Over 100 million Nigerians are connected to the internet.

Recognizing the role of internet connectivity in boosting economic growth, the Nigerian government launched a $732 million investment plan to make for the deficit where only about 37.8% of Nigerians have access to broadband. The investment plan was designed to roll out high-speed broadband and boost the economy.

But while internet use has impacted the Nigerian economy in many beneficial ways, its attendant risks of cyber fraud, cyberterrorism, and other internet vices, threaten the security of Nigeria’s cyberspace.

It equally poses a threat to Nigeria’s thriving digital economy. For instance, online financial fraud has become commonplace. This discourages users from deploying the internet to carry out legitimate business transactions.

In the words of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), “Our country is now confronted with increasing threats of cyber attacks on critical national infrastructure, including our telecommunications systems, banking platforms, military networks, transportation systems, national databases, and other critical assets in the country.

“Furthermore, we are witnessing a rise in the spread of fake news and hate speech over the social media, as well as propagation of seditious messages by subversive elements looking to disrupt the unity and wellness of the country. Some of these threats were exemplified during the recent events of October of last year.”

The NSA equally noted that the country is currently witnessing an escalation in online financial scams and fraud perpetrated by some nefarious individuals and groups within and outside the country, which is persistently denying Nigeria’s international image.

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria had placed a ban on cryptocurrency after the Federal Bureau of Investigation notified the apex bank and the Federal Government that internet scammers were using it to bring in millions into the economy.

Other security threats common with internet use, especially in the area of e-commerce include, Distributed Denial of Service, Credit Card Fraud, Malware, Bad Bots, and e-skimming.

The NCPS 2021 as such provides the necessary framework to effectively confront the dynamic nature of threats in the country’s cyberspace.

The NCPS 2021 equally creates a platform that would make it possible to harness the efforts of the private sector, academia, and industry towards progressive economic and national development.

It provides the necessary framework needed for technical education, digital skills acquisition, and indigenous technology production, thereby creating job opportunities for youths and supporting resolve to alleviate poverty and boost the economy.

As the president noted while speaking at the launching, the country is blessed with a young and vibrant population that has the potential to exploit the benefits of the current internet revolution to enhance the nation’s economic progress and improve national security.

The fact that the Buhari-led administration recognises the importance of the internet is what has made it focus on how it can use ICT to drive the economy and enhance national security.

Some of these ICT-driven initiatives include the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), launched in March last year, the National Identity Programme, Treasury Single Account (TSA), and Bank Verification Number (BVN).

Read Also: NSA Urges the Need For Cybersecurity Policy

The aim of the NCPS 2021 is summarized in the words of NSA who noted that the new National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy will “address the nation’s cybersecurity challenges, boost readiness for global cybersecurity collaborations, enhance national digital economic competitiveness, improve indigenous technology development, safeguard our critical national infrastructure, and ensure the protection of our cyberspace from cyberattacks, online fraud and other related illicit activities, including fake news and hate speech.”

The NCPS, therefore, signifies President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to enhance the Nigerian economy and national security. In the words of the president, the policy would ensure that his administration prioritise Nigeria’s national cybersecurity programme, among other exigencies.

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