By Onu Okorie
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stakeholders in the academia, the public sector and enthusiasts of technology for development, have deliberated on the benefits derivable from emerging technologies such as Blockchain, to advance the growth of the Nigerian economy.
At a recently-organised two-day workshop by the Commission, in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), stakeholders were in accord that through effective implementation of policies as expressed in guidelines, regulations and directions driven by the NCC, Blockchain could be a bedrock of economic innovation and growth.
The workshop, which took place in Abuja and focused on ‘’Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) Ecosystem, Decentralisation and Adoption Methods’’, drew participants from financial institutions, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the academia, the Nigerian military, and paramilitary forces, the Nigerian Cyberwarfare Command, and the private sector.
The stakeholders, who spoke in turn at the workshop, acknowledged and profoundly appreciated the role of NCC in engendering a dynamic digital regulatory environment, the remarkable contribution to the growth and development of novel and emerging technologies, and NCC’s adoption of adaptive mechanisms that have enhanced emerging technologies in Nigeria.
Addressing a large audience at the event, NCC’s Director, New Media and Information Security, Dr. Haru Al-Hassan, who delivered the opening speech at the event, on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said existing national digital economy frameworks such as the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030 instituted by the Federal Government as well as regulatory initiatives by the Commission, have been significant enablers of Blockchain and emerging technologies in the country.
According to Al- Hassan, “good regulatory policies are the bedrock of innovation and growth and it is the aspiration of the Commission that Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) otherwise known as Blockchain and other innovative technologies and services would continue to thrive and contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.”
In the same vein, the Director-General, BPSR, Dr. Dasuki Arabi, informed the audience that the Nigerian government was already making efforts, through a number of initiatives, to harmonizing emerging technologies with the contemporary public service sector in a way that strengthens the efficiency of the public sector. He also affirmed that Blockchain would be central in the implementation of the National e-Govt Masterplan.
The BPSR Chief Executive equally listed the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Bank Verification Number (BVN), automation of enforcement activities of some agencies of the government, including the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), as well as automated performance measurement systems for public sector employees, as concrete examples of the utilisation of technology in the public sector.
Arabi asserted that Nigeria ranks third in Africa, in the use of telecommunications for public service delivery, coming behind South Africa and Egypt. Arabi called on policymakers to ensure robust policy formulation that ensures improved digital literacy and increased automation in public service delivery.