The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has set up an eight-member working committee headed by Segun Olugbile, executive chairman of Continental Project Affairs Associates (CPAA) Limited, to review and address the position of business stakeholders on the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) amendment bill on digital economy.
This followed a consultation meeting set up by the National Chamber Policy Centre of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), ACCI, and stakeholders in the ICT sector.
According to the stakeholders, the proposed bill by NITDA expected to realign ‘NITDA Act 2017’ with the tenets and ideals of the current administration’s digital economy policy, has been generating controversies due to sections targeted to stifle the tech sector in the country.
Commenting on the bill, Osi Imomoh, vice president, Technology, Skills and Digital Economy, ACCI, said the ambiguous sections of the bill, which is currently generating reactions within and outside Nigeria on its threat to the Information Communications Technology (ICT) business community, should rather be properly spelt out to help operators in the industry fully understand what implications this might have for their businesses.
Imomoh called on participants at the meeting to look at the sections that infringe on ICT business and engage NITDA in those areas rather than tackling every issue, adding that the meeting was conveyed to address bottlenecks and also engage NITDA to amend some of the sessions that are infringing on ICT business operations in Nigeria.
On her part, Victoria Akai, director general, ACCI, noted that a lot has been said about the bill, particularly the threat it poses to ICT.
Akai explained that the chamber intends to gather the viewpoints of its members and generate specific amendments to the provision of the bill as proposed by NITDA.
Our proposed amendment to the bill will be forwarded to the director general, NITDA, and the minister of communication and digital economy. Our resolutions here will also form the basis of our media engagement which will push for the protection of the interest of the business community,” she added.
In his remarks, Segun Olugbile said the content of the bill does not suggest any kind of development for the tech sector and was proposing what will cripple the digital economy rather than encouraging development.
“We have to engage the minister in whatever is going on. We should let him know that what they are about to do will affect business. We should stress the importance of the benefits that can come when you encourage innovations and draw attention of the government to specific benefits of the digital economy,” he stressed.
Olugbile called on the organised private sectors, like NACCIMA, to engage NITDA to help shape any policy coming from the government, noting that the bill cannot work if NACCIMA is not carried along to represent organised private business in Nigeria.
The eight-man working committee constituted to carry out a proper review of the Bill include; Olawale Rasheed, Hannah Eke, Yusuf Belgore, Anthonia Asheidu, Christomary Udokang, Isaac Adeyanju and Echoga Caleb, and headed by Olugbile. The committee is expected to submit its review and recommendation in two weeks’ time.