President Muhammadu Buhari says the cyberspace is now being used for election manipulation, subversion of the democratic rights of citizens, as well as propagation of violence among the populace.
The President said this while delivering a keynote speech at the 2019 Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in Dubai.
He said a level of regulation was required in order to protect the misuse of cyberspace and preserve the integrity of the digital economy, noting that Nigeria is taking the lead in cyber policing in West Africa due to its collaborations with regional and global partners.
Buhari restated the need for collective efforts by the public and private sector to deal with these threats to cyberspace.
He said: ”Today, we have a cyber-world that is intangible but real. This borderless world is powerful, and it impacts the lives of billions of people, no matter how remote their physical locations are.
“People work in it. People socialise in it. And people invest in it. This presents enormous opportunities. But it also remains a constant threat if left unregulated.
“On the one hand, it has made the human race more productive and more efficient. Today, we have digital banking, virtual currencies and many social platforms that connect people and cultures. On the other hand, we have seen platforms hijacked and manipulated as evidenced by the steady rise in fake news and cybercrimes.
“More recently, we are also witnessing the use of the cyberspace to manipulate elections, subvert the democratic rights of citizens as well as propagate violence.
“In effect, the digital world has become the new frontier for both good and evil. Therefore, the challenge for world leaders must be to ensure that this space is inclusive, accessible and safe,”
“In Nigeria, our mobile phone penetration exceeds eighty per cent. This means the majority of Nigeria’s 190 million citizens are fully connected to this new digital world, especially our youth.
“Sixty-five per cent or 170 million Nigerians are under the age of 25 years. These bright minds are the drivers of this emerging digital sector. Today, Nigeria has close to 90 technology hubs and every day, new ones are coming up and they are all developing solutions for Nigerian, and indeed global problems.
“Already, these young entrepreneurs have attracted investments of over $100million dollars, a sizeable amount from overseas, including Silicon Valley. As many of you from this region are aware, Nigerian start-ups always have a very impressive outing at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX). Many have won prizes.
“When we came in 2015, we immediately agreed that any future economic growth must be inclusive. As the Nigerian youth population is fully digitalised, it is clear that the idea of having an inclusive economy cannot be achieved without digital inclusion.”