The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has identified seven key conditions necessary to unlock opportunities and potential in Nigeria's digital market.
The Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, who listed the conditions in a paper he presented at the just concluded e-Nigeria conference, said Nigeria must establish, "the right regulatory and industry policies to encourage infrastructure investment in digital infrastructure, such as communications networks, which include broadband, mobile telecoms, internet, online e-government services, and smart cities."
According to him, the federal government must, "create a stable, predictable and sustainable policy/commercial environment that allows businesses to flourish," a step that would help in unlocking the country's digital market thereby allowing the economy to grow."
Although Nigeria's population, which is currently at almost 200 million, presents a huge potential, the NIMC boss argued that government needs to put in place focused programmes to "stimulate demand for digital solutions through the promotion of digital skills, digital local content and support for local digital applications" for the opportunities to be fully harnessed.
Speaking further, he said, "Government needs to encourage and implement digital services across all sectors of the economy, and establish economy platforms such as e-commerce, online markets, and entrepreneurship ecosystem, thereby encouraging tech-enabled businesses to turn creativity into value-creating online businesses."
According to him, "We must introduce digital literacy in our school curriculum in primary and secondary schools, as this will bring about digital skill critical for digital interaction."
Aziz, said the provision of digital identity remained critical to everyone in the country, in accessing services physically or electronically.
Stressing that identification, which is the main responsibility and mandate of NIMC, Aziz reminded the audience that one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the United Nations set out as blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, demands that nations provide legal identity for all including birth registration by the year 2030.
"From the goal, it is very clear that identification plays an important role in enabling the achievement of other SDG targets, such as social protection, rights to economic resources, land and property as well as universal health coverage," he stated.
As a strategy to fast-track the enrolment of citizens and provide them legal identification, NIMC has stepped up its operations, which has seen the enrolment figure with the unique National Identification Number (NIN) now at over 33 million, up from just seven million three years ago, Aziz said.
The digital identity ecosystem is a framework that leverages on the existing capabilities and infrastructure of distinct government agencies and private sector organisations to carry out enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) as well as issuance of the Digital identity, known as the NIN, to give Nigeria a credible and robust identity management system.
Aziz had said the focus of the NIMC for the next three to five years is on the National Identification Number and not on the National e-ID Card.
"We want to make the NIN understandable, acceptable, applicable and appreciated by Nigerians, as an important and intrinsic aspect of their entire life, rather than a physical card, which can be discarded while the number is for life.
"Before now, we were focused on the card but after the country went into recession, we decided to emulate other developed countries like the United States, which issues the Social Security Number; the United Kingdom, with the National Insurance Number; and India where they recently enrolled about 1.4 billion people and issued them the Aadhaar. In all these cases, the emphasis - or perhaps I should say the only thing in focus, is the number."