Last week, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gathered industry opinion in Lagos to discuss regulations regarding the full implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Nigeria. ADEYEMI ADEPETUN writes in this report about the planned move.
Advances in computing power and wireless internet connectivity seem to be rapidly transforming the world. It makes the world smarter fast! From America to Europe, from Asia to Australia to Africa, devices are becoming more connected and smarter.
It is noteworthy to say that technological innovation is rapidly helping the world realize the potential of machine-to-machine interaction, where computers communicate seamlessly with another device. The technology behind this is the Internet of Things (IoT). Analysts believe that IoT will be useful in all sectors from industry to manufacturing and telecom to engineering, among others.
For Nigeria to be a part of this global movement and to ensure that the benefits are not eroded, there needs to be regulation, as seen in countries where IoT is fully up and running.
As such, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) brought together stakeholders in Lagos last week to discuss the “Regulatory Roadmap for IoT Ecosystem in Nigeria”.
What is IoT?
IoT, first conceived by Kevin Ashton in 1999, is a system of interconnected computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or humans that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human intervention. intervention is required (human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction).
IoT is a network type that allows objects to communicate and perceive each other with the environment through embedded technology. But actually it still remains in the connection, communication and data interaction between electronic devices. Subsequently, the definition of IoT began to focus on the use between people and electronic products. Therefore, in addition to the sensors of electronic products, the data collection and usage patterns of human use of electronic products also fall under the definition of IoT. It is not only connected to the product, but also can track various usage data of the user, such as the user’s biomarker.
Relevance to Nigeria
In his opening speech, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, said that new technologies are crucial for the development of a digital economy.
Pantami said IoT is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is powered by emerging technologies including 5G, Cybersecurity, Quantum Computing, Cloud Computing, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence.
The minister said that all technologies are disruptive in nature and therefore require adequate regulation. According to him, the ministry’s regulatory approach since 2019 has been development-oriented and flexible, designed not to hinder the growth of the sector. As such, he said that regulation of IoT, which has been at the center of the discussion at the forum, would allow the country to prepare adequately, especially as it moves into the 5G era.
While the forum noted that IoT had gradually started in some cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, the minister noted that IoT is very important in 4IR and disruptive technologies as it raised the issue of outgassing.
He stressed the need for the kind of consultation and brainstorming being organized for IoT, as the International Data Cooperation (IDC) revealed: “By 2025 there will be approximately 46.1 billion IoT devices connected globally… and through this connection , the data to be generated will be a maximum of 79.4 Zettabytes.”
At the event, in which the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Houlin Zhou, who reviewed one of the books written by the minister, joined virtually from Geneva, Switzerland, Pantami said there is a huge amount of data worldwide. generated and Nigeria is no exception. Therefore, “there must be some sort of regulation to prevent abuse. There is already Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) and there is a National Data Protection Bureau with a National Commissioner to oversee that case. But we need to be more specific in our regulations to make sure innovation isn’t stifled.”
NCC Executive Vice-Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta, who further called the industry together, said IoT is becoming increasingly important in the schedule of operations in most sectors of the economy, including education, security, military exploration, trade, governance, inventory management, health, surveillance and smart city initiatives etc.
Danbatta said the application of IoT is far-reaching. “In the home, IoT can be used for home automation and control, lighting, temperature measurement and entertainment, among other things. Likewise, in industrial environments, IoT unifies assets, advanced analytics, and workers by using connected industrial devices to monitor, collect, exchange, and analyze insights to drive faster and better decision-making processes. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be used to track inventory, improve product quality monitoring and automate factories to run more efficiently,” said Danbatta.
According to him, with the advent of 5G technologies, we will “witness another dimension in the IoT ecosystem as 5G technology will enable Massive Machine Type Communication (MTC).”
Referring to GSMA Intelligence’s predictions, the NCC EVC said IoT connections would reach nearly 25 billion worldwide by 2025. He said that with the pace of growth, it had become necessary to prepare for the regulation of this important technology.
He said IoT can be deployed as a self-contained network of sensors, actuators and controllers or rely on a mobile operator’s network. He added that licensed or unlicensed IoT are all spectrum dependent and will certainly require “our attention and that of our partners in this industry”.
Danbatta explained that the NCC, in taking its responsibility for regulation, has made it a regular practice to collaborate with experts and key industry players on how best to develop robust regulation for emerging technologies in the country. be facilitated.
Regulation and readiness
Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, NCC, Bako Wakil, said IoT challenges such as security, interoperability and safety require regulation.
As for the country’s preparedness, Wakil disclosed that the commission was already type-approving devices. However, he stressed that there was a need to scale up the skills needed to operate the technology, adding that consumers should also be protected from exploitation.
Wakil said many aviation equipment has been approved by the NCC to avoid interference.
From his perspective, the head of spectrum administration at NCC, Abraham Oshadami, naturally said that anything regulated works better.
“No IoT without interoperability. The value chain is complex and does not stand alone. Investments in IoT will thrive if there is proper regulation,” he added.
Usman Aliyu, deputy director of the NCC, Technical Standards, noted that the regulations are already in place: “What it takes is to enable it, make it flexible and IoT will explode. However, there needs to be standardization to meet meet global standards.”
Chief Technical Officer, Mafab Communications, Kingsley Uwazie, said there is a need for smart regulation (adaptive and cross-border). He said that while some regulations were already in place, “they should be adaptive in nature.”
With multiple regulations in different sectors, Uwazie said there should be multi-sector meetings, where such issues need to be resolved.
Speaking about the IoT ecosystem: “Consumer Requirements, Regulations and Challenges,” Prof. Emmanuel Eronu from the University of Abuja said that policymakers should ensure that consumers are not negatively affected by regulation.
You, who said there has to be an underlying infrastructure that needs to be maintained, stressed that consumer fears need to be addressed.
Addressing consumers, Eronu said regulations should thwart the collaboration of the NCC, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCCC), and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
According to him, these agencies need to solve challenges around interoperability, data security/privacy, standardization, complex accountability and accountability chains; including data collection and use.
From an end user perspective, Eronu said adherence is essential, but there must be some way to protect non-expert users.
Location of satellite
Dissecting “The IoT Ecosystem: Satellite Perspective,” Levin Born McCall of Regent Square Group, US, said that from the satellite IoT service provider’s point of view, the implementation is inexpensive, quick to deploy, software-centric, adaptable, and always evolving. .
On the key priorities of a new framework, Born-McCall said a direct relationship should be established with satellite operators; implement a smaller fee structure; enabling players in the satellite and space segment to exist independently of the legacy operator, i.e. the MNOs and ISPs.