Nigeria Looks Into Developing Its Own ‘Nigerium’ Blockchain

Nigeria Looks Into Developing Its Own ‘Nigerium’ Blockchain

Nigeria is exploring the development of its own blockchain system, tentatively named Nigerium, to enhance local technological capabilities and boost “data sovereignty.” This initiative, spearheaded by the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), aims to reduce dependence on foreign technology and bolster the country’s digital economy.

Stakeholder Discussions and Development Timeline

Currently, there is no set timeline for the development and implementation of Nigerium. According to Hadiza Umar, NITDA’s head of corporate affairs and external relations, the committee is still in discussions with stakeholders about the project’s feasibility. “Even if a decision is finally made, there is no assurance that the name will be Nigerium,” Umar noted.

Potential Benefits and Strategic Goals

Nigerium is expected to address various challenges related to data security and transparency. NITDA Director-General Kashifu Inuwa emphasized that the blockchain will “ensure secure and transparent transactions across various sectors.” This could significantly impact Nigeria’s digital economy by driving innovations in finance, healthcare, and public services. The country’s cryptocurrency industry is already estimated to be worth $400 million.

The initiative aligns with Nigeria’s national blockchain policy, launched in May last year. The policy aims to create a blockchain-powered economy that supports secure transactions, data sharing, and value exchange between people, businesses, and the government. This move contrasts with Nigeria’s previous regulatory stance, where the central bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission had warned about the risks associated with virtual currencies.

Expert Insights and Future Directions

Chanu Kuppuswamy, a blockchain expert at the University of Hertfordshire Law, supports the development of an indigenous blockchain like Nigerium. She argues that it is a significant step towards achieving data sovereignty and fostering trust in digital transactions within Nigeria. Kuppuswamy’s team from the university initially suggested the idea of developing this blockchain to allow Nigeria to adapt the technology to its needs and align it with existing laws.

While the development of Nigerium is seen as a strategic move to reduce dependency on foreign blockchain technologies, Umar clarified that the focus of the blockchain will not solely be on data sovereignty. “Rather, measures will be implemented in the eventual blockchain solutions to maintain data sovereignty,” she told Decrypt.

Regulatory Landscape and Industry Impact

This initiative follows Nigeria’s increasing interest in blockchain technology and its efforts to regulate and integrate digital assets into the economy. The nation’s securities regulator has given crypto firms a late July deadline to register or face enforcement action. Developing Nigerium could provide a robust platform for secure transactions and innovation, fostering a more resilient and self-sufficient digital economy in Nigeria.

In summary, Nigeria’s exploration of an indigenous blockchain system, Nigerium, reflects a broader strategy to enhance technological independence, improve data security, and drive economic growth through blockchain innovation.

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