By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has set up a working group to collate position of business stakeholders on the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) proposed Bill on Digital Economy.
This was arrived at after a consultation meeting organised by the National Chamber Policy Centre of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Mines (NACCIMA) and ACCI with stakeholders in the ICT sector today.
A statement by the spokeswoman of ACCI, Olayemi John- Mensah on Friday said the new Bill proposed by NITDA has been generating controversies due to sessions targeted to stifle the tech sector in the country.
The Vice President, Technology, Skills and Digital Economy, ACCI, Mr. Osi Imomoh who chaired the meeting said the ambiguous sections of the Bill which is currently generating reaction within and outside Nigeria on its threat to the ICT business community should rather be properly spelt out to help operators in the Information Communication and Technology Industry fully understand what implications this might have for their businesses.
“Concerns have been raised within Nigeria and the American Business Council over the proposed Bill yet to be passed into law. The functions of the Agency according to reactions are not also properly spelt out”, he said.
He called on participants at the meeting to look at the sections that infringe on ICT business and engage NITDA in those area rather than tackling every issue adding that the Chamber is conveying this meeting in the interest of business community to address some of these bottlenecks and also engage NITDA to amend some of the sessions that are infringing on ICT business operations in Nigeria.
The Director General ACCI, Victoria Akai also stated that a lot has been said about the Bill particularly the threat it poses to ICT in some session adding that as in compliance with the tradition of policy advocacy, we decided to convey this internal consultation meeting.
“We intend to gather the viewpoints of our members which will now inform the stand to be taken by the Chamber’s leadership. Our deliberations here today will generate specific amendment to the provision of the Bill as proposed by NITDA. Our proposed amendment to the Bill will then be forwarded to the Director General, NITDA and the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy. Our resolutions here, will also form the bases of our media engagement which will push for the protection of the interest of the business community”, she noted.
Amb Segun Olugbile in a review of the Bill stated that the content of the Bill does not suggest any kind of development for the tech sector but instead proposing what will cripple the digital economy rather than encouraging development.
He said there are things expected of NITDA adding that the meeting is not to be confrontational to the government but to brainstorm on NITDA Acts to find a way forward, create more jobs opportunities and good business environment for the tech sector.
He said “from the look of things, we now have an agency that wants to take control of everything including, licensing, registration, regulations, authorisations and others adding that the excess of this engagement is to bring to the issue to the attention of the public and ensure that the private sector help to shape the opinion of the public sector.
“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 important of the benefits that can come when you encourage innovations and draw attention of government to specific benefits of digital economy.”
Amb Olugbile called on the organised private sectors like NACCIMA to engage NITDA to help shape any policy coming from the government while saying that the Bill cannot work if NACCIMA is not carried along to represent organised private business in Nigeria.
The eight-man working committee headed by Amb Olugbile was constituted to carry out a proper review of the Bill and come up with action and recommendation to be submitted in two weeks’ time.
Other members of the group include; Mr. Olawale Rasheed, Mrs. Hannah Eke, Yusuf Belgore, Dr. Anthonia Asheidu, Dr. Christomary Udokang, Bar Isaac Adeyanju and Bar Echoga Caleb.