The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau has said that Nigeria needs about 490,000 data protection officers to cater to over 500,000 data controllers and processors in the country.

The commissioner of NDPB, Dr Vincent Olatunji, who stated this during a one-day capacity building on data protection and privacy for members of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association in Abuja, said that Nigeria currently had less than 10,000 certified data protection officers, which was insufficient to handle data protection in the country.

The commissioner explained that data protection officers serve as middlemen between organisations and the NDPB, adding that they were mandated to report data breaches discovered in the organisation they cover and reported to the bureau within 24 hours.

Olatunji while urging journalists to take advantage of the opportunities in data protection stated that the bureau planned to put in place certifications for over 250,000 Nigerians to become data protection officers.

He noted that the training was to address issues around data privacy and protection and to harness the inherent potential in the sector, adding that the training and certifications were open to all age groups.

“The NDPB was established as an independent data protection agency looking at global best practices. In the last analysis we carried out, we discovered that there were over 500,000 data controllers and data processors in Nigeria and the law states that each data controller or data processor must have one data protection officer with deep knowledge of data protection to assist the organisation and advise them on data protection.

“This is to ensure every data any organisation collects, processes, shares or stores is processed within the context which it was obtained for and put in place measures to protect the data.

“If all sectors employ data protection officers, it will create over 490,000 jobs for Nigerians.”

 Recently, when the government released a circular that all ministries, departments and agencies must appoint a data protection officer and train them, the compliance level increased from 4 per cent to 9 per cent, creating about 9,000 jobs in two years,” he explained.

According to him, anyone can be a data protection officer because there is no age limit to getting trained and certified.

He added, “This is something you can do alongside your job to provide an additional source of income. Meta was recently fined €1.3m for data breaches. Imagine if data protection officers could spot data breaches and report those to the bureau, these organisations will be more aware of the importance of data protection and it will create more revenue and jobs.”

Olatunji further said that despite the narrative that people would begin to lose jobs due to increasing digitalisation, it was important to note that as more people lose jobs, more jobs would be created, especially in the digital economy sector.

He said that considering the level of digitalisation in all sectors and the way Nigerians exchanged information, the need to protect data and put measures in place to safeguard information adequately was becoming increasingly important.

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