FG to establish mobile phone data policy
The federal government said Thursday in Abuja a cellphone data policy that would grow and accelerate the country’s digital economy is on the horizon.
Mr. Ben Ewa, Acting Director, eGovernment Development and Regulations, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said at a stakeholder awareness workshop on “The Value of Mobile Phone Data for the National Digital Economy”.
The workshop was organized by the Flowminder Foundation, a Swedish non-profit organization, in collaboration with the Data Scientists Network (DSN) from Nigeria.
The Flowminder Foundation aims to ensure decision makers can easily access the data needed to transform the lives of vulnerable people.
Ewa said the draft policy was presented to stakeholders in November 2020 and is still in the rulemaking process before its official launch.
He explained cellphone data as the data generated by cellphone users, typically stored in cellphone towers as people migrate from one place to another.
According to him, the policy will create opportunities, save money for the government, help in decision-making and solve societal problems identified by cell phone use.
“The policy will address regulatory issues that ensure mobile phone data resources are used and data is collected responsibly without putting data subjects at risk,” he said.
Ms Cathy Riley, director of strategic partnerships at Flowminder, said the organization is targeting middle-income countries for access to the data they need to transform people’s lives.
Riley also said the organization examines data from mobile network operators and Call Detail Records (CDRs) and, more broadly, geospatial data.
The goal, she said, is “what’s going on in the country, the economy, the social dimensions for informed decision making”.
She said Flowminder is working with DSN on capacity building, training and learning about the processes that need to be performed with this type of data to ensure its security.
“The data we look at comes from base stations or the cell tower, location data that addresses issues of disease modelling, transportation needs and migration patterns, among other things.
“We’re much more interested in how we can use the data to support a health intervention, so people have access to health facilities or an educational intervention,” she said.
She added that they were working with the federal government to examine their data regulation, Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics and the National Population Council to combine and compare data.
DSN’s Mr Aanu Oyeniran said they would ensure the aggregation of data and its use to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.
Mr. Anthony Obi, Managing Partner at Whitespaces Company, said in his keynote address that bridging the gap in mobile phone data usage would require strong partnership between stakeholders, including government.
Obi proposed a clear legal agreement for data sharing to develop internal capabilities by investing in data literacy programs and data sharing platforms, and funding data-related initiatives.