Economy needs information technology — Ndukwe
Former Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Mr. Ernest Ndukwe, has urged the Federal Government and the National Assembly to enact laws to protect Information and Communications Technology and power facilities as critical national infrastructure.
Ndukwe, who made the call at Internet Governance Forum in Abuja, said the enactment of a law on critical national infrastructure would provide a framework for curtailing the growing vandalism of ICT, transport and electricity facilities across the country.
According to him, ICT including broadband constitutes essential infrastructure of today’s digital economy as the networks make it possible for African nations to participate actively in the world economy.
He added that increased dependency on ICT infrastructure by other sectors could lead to increased vulnerability of the economy as a whole, thus the need to protect the infrastructure from being attacked physically or in the cyberspace.
He said, “No modern economy can be sustained today without adequate and pervasive ICT infrastructure. ICT pervades heavily into all areas of society, industry and government. It acts as a vital cross-sector dependency linkage between critical infrastructures.
“In fact, infrastructures such as telecommunications, energy and transportation are becoming increasingly dependent on each other through the increased use of ICT.
“Therefore, the consequences of disturbances of underlying ICT networks may result in disastrous cascading effects on other sectors of the economy. Every modern nation depends on the reliable functioning of its critical infrastructure, especially its ICT networks and systems.”
Ndukwe added, “The adoption and usage of Internet and broadband by everyone are essential prerequisites of the digital economy of the 21st century. However, all over the world, cyber threats continue to grow and constitute major national security vulnerability points.
“It must be the intention of every government in the digital age to maintain a cyber-environment that encourages economic prosperity while promoting business efficiency, innovation, safety, security and confidentiality. It is therefore essential that government urgently enacts comprehensive cyber security laws to address the liability and criminal risks that may originate from inappropriate use of Internet infrastructure.
“In addressing vulnerability, there will also be a need for international coordination, exchange of intelligence, training and manpower development of subject matter experts, ensuring that operators of critical infrastructure protect their systems from harm.”
Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, said the addition of nine million subscribers every year to the population of Internet users in the country could be interpreted as growth and opportunity or potential threat depending on the perspective.
She said, “We have made gains in reducing the digital divide and are increasing digital inclusion and integration. Initiatives such as the Rural Broadband Initiative have seen an extension of broadband infrastructure in rural areas.
“Creativity is being applied to achieve legal and illegal outcomes. Surveillance is taken as necessary in a world of increasing instability and terrorism.”
She added that more understanding of the dynamism between the youth and technology as well as the untapped opportunities was required.