FG to establish mobile phone data policy



By Ijeoma Olorunfemi

The Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja said Mobile Phone Data Policy that would grow and speed up the country’s digital economy was in the offing.

Mr Ben Ewa, Acting Director, E-Government Development and Regulations of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said this at a stakeholders sensitisation workshop on “The Value of Mobile Phone Data to National Digital Economy.”

The workshop was organised by Flowminder Foundation, a Swedish Non-profit organization, in collaboration with Data Scientists Network (DSN) of Nigeria.

Flowminder Foundation seeks to ensure that decision makers can easily access required data needed to transform the lives of vulnerable people.

Ewa said the draft policy was presented to stakeholders in November 2020 and was still undergoing rule making process before its official launch.

He explained Mobile phone data as the data generated by mobile phone users usually stored in cell phone towers as people migrate from one place to another.

According to him, having the policy will unlock doors of opportunities, save money for the government, help in decision making and solve societal problems identified through the use mobile phones.

“The policy will address issues of regulation which will ensure harnessing the mobile phone data resources, harvesting data responsibly without compromising any data subject,” he said.

Ms Cathy Riley, Strategic Partnership Director, Flowminder, said the organisation was targeting middle income countries to have access to the data that they needed to transform people’s lives.

Riley also said that the organisation was looking at mobile network operator data and the Call Detail Records (CDRs) and more broadly geospatial data.

The aim, she said was to “what is going on in the country, the economy, social dimensions for informed decision making.”

She said Flowminder was working with DSN in the area of capacity building, training and learning the processes to undertake with this type of data, ensuring its safety and security.

“The data we are looking at is through base stations or the cell tower, location data that will address issues on disease modelling, transport needs, patterns of migration, among others.

“We are much more interested on how we can use the data to support an intervention in the health space so that people have access to health facilities or an intervention in the education space,” she said.

She added that they were working with the federal government to study its Data Regulation, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, National Population Council to combine and compare data.

Mr Aanu Oyeniran of DSN said they would ensure aggregation of data and its usage for chievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.

Mr Anthony Obi, Managing Partner at Whitespaces Company, in his keynote address, said bridging the gap in leveraging mobile phone data would require strong partnership among stakeholders, including the government.

Obi suggested a clear legal agreement for sharing data for development of internal capacity through investment in data literacy programme and data exchange platforms, as well as funding for data-related initiatives.(NAN)