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FG to launch centre for data collection to boost security

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The Federal Government (FG) has disclosed moves to strengthen national security and efficiency by unveiling a state-of-the-art data centre that can store 1.4 petabytes of data.

This facility, the Ministry of Interior, said would revolutionise the management of citizens’ bio-data and critical national information.

It noted that this feat will be achieved before May 29, 2024 – about a week.

Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo made this announcement during a meeting with the delegation of the National Union of Nigerian Associations in Italy (NUNAI) led by its President, Chief Rowland Ndukuba at his office in Abuja.

In a Tuesday post on his X account, the minister shared a Monday-dated press release signed by the ministry’s Director of Press & Public Relations, Ozoya Imohimi.

The statement read: “The Federal Government is set to launch a state-of-the-art data centre capable of storing up to 1.4 petabytes of data before 29 May 2024. This data centre will house a comprehensive range of critical national information, including citizens’ bio-data,” it read.

“Modern challenges require novel, cutting-edge technological solutions,” he stated, highlighting that the integration of advanced technology will significantly enhance the efficiency and accountability of national operations.”

The announcement comes as part of a broader initiative by the Ministry to address both domestic and international concerns.

In 2022, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said data centres are critical to the digitisation of the economy and implementation of Internet of Things services.

There have been reports that there have been widespread complaints about poor data registration and collection in the country, covering areas such as birth, death, employment, marital status, and migration.

According to the statement, Tunji-Ojo reassured the NUNAI delegation that “their requests for intervention and the establishment of passport front offices would be reviewed, reinforcing the Ministry’s commitment to supporting Nigerians abroad.”

Furthermore, the minister “made it clear that the Federal Government would not condone illegal migration and that Nigerians attempting to emigrate through unlawful means will face the consequences of their actions.”

Tunji-Ojo also assured the NUNAI delegation that the well-being of Nigerians in Italy is a priority and that the Ministry of Interior will explore collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support stranded Nigerians abroad.

The President of NUNAI, Chief Rowland Ndukuba, expressed his gratitude for the Ministry’s proactive efforts and urged continued collaboration to assist Nigerians facing challenges in Italy.

“Earlier, Chief Rowland Ndukuba expressed gratitude for the Ministry’s efforts in addressing the challenges faced by Nigerians in Italy.

“He urged the minister and the ministry to continue collaborative efforts to assist stranded Nigerians in Italy,” the statement concluded.

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NITDA inaugurates startup labelling committee for implementation of Nigeria Startup Act

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has taken a significant step towards driving the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) with the inauguration of a Startup Labelling Committee. This committee, inaugurated by NITDA Director-General Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, comprises representatives from both the public and private sectors.

Enacted on October 19, 2022, the NSA established a legal and institutional framework to foster the development and growth of Nigerian startups. A critical provision within the Act is the Startup Label, which recognises eligible startups and grants them access to various benefits outlined in the NSA. The issuance of the Startup Label hinges on a thorough assessment and validation process to ensure a startup meets the eligibility criteria as defined by the Act. The newly formed committee will play a pivotal role in overseeing this process.

In his address at the inauguration ceremony, Inuwa emphasised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s unwavering dedication to fostering an environment conducive to the growth and success of young Nigerian innovators. He acknowledged the pivotal role startups will play in propelling the nation’s economic development and the significance of the committee’s work in nurturing and supporting these enterprises.

Inuwa elaborated on the various initiatives and support mechanisms the government plans to implement, aimed at reducing hurdles and providing financial assistance and mentorship opportunities to young entrepreneurs. He expressed optimism about the future, asserting that with the right support, these budding innovators could transform their ideas into thriving enterprises, contributing significantly to job creation and the overall economic prosperity of Nigeria in line with President Tinubu’s priority to “reform the economy to deliver sustained inclusive growth.”

He urged stakeholders to join hands in creating a robust ecosystem that would empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to flourish and contribute to the country’s progress. Inuwa added that the committee will be instrumental in establishing a robust legal and institutional framework for the successful implementation of the Startup Act. Their collaborative efforts will ensure a participatory approach that benefits all stakeholders within the Nigerian startup ecosystem.

“The composition of the committee reflects the emphasis on collaboration. Representatives from government agencies, industry experts, investors, and startup founders will bring their diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. This collaborative approach is expected to lead to a more efficient and effective labelling process, ultimately benefiting the growth of Nigerian startups,” he stated.

The National Coordinator of the Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation, Victoria Fabunmi, outlined the terms of reference for the advisory committee. These include reviewing and evaluating startups’ applications for the label based on criteria defined in the Act, periodically updating labelling criteria to ensure alignment with industry trends, and conducting impartial evaluations of submitted applications.

Furthermore, the committee will recommend the issuance or otherwise of the Startup Label based on defined criteria, provide feedback and recommendations on areas of improvement for rejected applications, and engage startups for more clarity where necessary. It will also periodically review its activities and data on labelling to identify opportunities and gaps that policymakers may need to address, review workload capacity, and recommend a fair ceiling for the number of applications to be considered per period.

The Labelling Committee comprises nine members: four representatives of incubators (ISN Rep, North and South), two representatives of the public sector (NITDA, NSIA), two representatives of civil society, and the Portal Coordinator who will serve as Secretary.

The inauguration of the Startup Labelling Committee marks a significant milestone in the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act. With a multi-stakeholder committee guiding the process, the Act has the potential to unlock the immense potential of Nigeria’s startup ecosystem and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic development.

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Airtel Nigeria appoints new advertising, media agencies

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Airtel Nigeria has appointed new agencies to handle its advertising and media activities in the country.

This was disclosed by the Director of Corporate Communications and CSR, Mr Femi Adeniran over the weekend.

According to Adeniran, “Following a rigorous pitch process, Airtel Nigeria is pleased to announce the appointment of three marketing communications consulting agencies to collaborate with the internal teams to drive Airtel brand communications, beginning July 1, 2024.

“Insight Publicis and The Hook were successful with their RFPs and have been appointed as advertising agencies while Algorithm Media has been charged with the responsibility for media strategy, planning and buying as well as digital marketing.

“MediaTrak Limited remains the media monitoring agency for Airtel Nigeria,” the statement revealed.

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NIMC boosts data security measures to protect citizens’ information

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By Opeyemi Abdulsalam

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has temporarily suspended the bypass enrolment process to prevent abuse and rectify any irregularities.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by NIMC, Head, Corporate Communications, Kayode Adegoke,  on Saturday.

Bypass enrollment is a way to avoid or skip the process of setting up a device with restrictions and management controls, usually set by an organisation.

This process allows the user to have full control over the device.

“The commission has received numerous reports regarding fraudulent online platforms compelling Nigerians to submit their personal information for national identification number (NIN) modification or enrollment services,” NIMC said.

“Perpetrators of these illegal activities will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“In addition, the commission has temporarily suspended the bypass enrollment process to prevent abuse and rectify any irregularities.”

Adegoke also said NIMC will communicate to the public the resumption of the bypass process later.

The commission also stressed its commitment to providing secured identity services and protecting the citizens’ data per its mandate as Nigeria’s foundational identity provider.

According to NIMC, enhanced measures have been implemented to safeguard the information stored in its national identity database.

“These actions align with the commitment outlined by the Director-General/CEO, Engr Abisoye Coker-Odusote, upon assuming office in August 2023,” NIMC said.

“Engr Coker-Odusote emphasised that the NIMC collaborates with relevant security agencies to uphold the utmost data security standards and regulatory compliance.

“As part of these new security protocols, all licensed verification agents, front end partners (FEPs), and diaspora FEPs will undergo rigorous security vetting to ensure adherence to global best practices in identity management.

“Any FEPs in violation will face sanctions by established regulations and the nation’s laws.”

NIMC said law enforcement authorities have been directed to crack down on and apprehend individuals involved in online phishing schemes targeting citizens’ data from other sources.

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