Nigerium: Inside NITDA’s plan to build Nigeria’s indigenous blockchain network 

Temitope Akintade
Kashifu Inuwa: Three years of changing the fate ICT in Nigeria through NITDA

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has disclosed Nigeria’s intention to develop a blockchain branded “Nigerium.”

According to the revelation by Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, NITDA’s Director-General, the indigenous blockchain is made necessary by the need to protect the country’s data and promote national security because of the revelation that prominent blockchain technologies are controlled by foreign developers who may not prioritize Nigeria’s interest.  

According to Investopedia, a blockchain is a distributed database or ledger shared among a computer network’s nodes. Blockchains can be used to make data in any industry immutable and unalterable.

It is no news that Nigeria has made moves to leverage emerging technologies like blockchain in recent times. Recall that in May 2023, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy announced a national blockchain policy. The policy document hopes to “facilitate the development of the Nigerian digital economy and enable citizens to have more confidence in digital platforms”. Subsequently, an implementation and steering committee of blockchain experts, professionals and bodies was set up. 

Similar news: NYSC certificates will now be issued and certified on the blockchain to minimize the risk of forgery -NITDA

In August 2023, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the NITDA Chief announced that the certificate of the National Youth Service Corps of Nigeria will now be issued and certified on blockchain technology. 

NYSC certificates will now be issued and certified on the blockchain to minimize the risk of forgery -NITDA.

Last week, NITDA announced plans to establish research centres for blockchain technology and other emerging technologies across the six geopolitical zones in the country.

Analysts believe that the development of an indigenous blockchain (Nigerium) is a major step in implementing the propositions in the national blockchain policy.

On the flip side, Nigerian authorities continue to clamp down on crypto usage and adoption in the country, despite nominal advancement in blockchain regulation.

Apart from protracted legal disputes with Binance, which the authorities hold accountable for Naira manipulation and tax evasion, KuCoin, a prominent crypto exchange has started charging a value-added-tax (VAT) of 7.5% on transactions.

Read here: KuCoin to start collecting 7.5% tax on crypto transactions in Nigeria from next week

More about Nigerium; Nigeria’s Indigenous blockchain 

The Nigerium blockchain project was proposed and presented by a delegation from the University of Hertfordshire Law School, led by Chanu Kuppuswamy.

Chanu argued that developing a homegrown blockchain for Nigeria will enable Nigeria to customize the technology according to its needs and make sure that it aligns with the country’s laws and regulations.  

Emphasizing the potential risks of relying on foreign-made blockchains, giving an instance of when Ethereum recently made steep changes to its blockchain without consultation with its users, Chanu stated that if Nigeria adopts a foreign blockchain it would be difficult for the country to stamp its influence on key decisions surrounding the blockchain.  

Crypto adoption in Nigeria Nigerium
Crypto adoption in Nigeria

Furthermore, the delegation suggested that Nigeria set up a Data embassy. The embassy will comprise a server hosted in a third-party country that would provide digital continuity and shield the country’s data from adverse events like Natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other threats. 

Lastly, the team suggested Nigeria look into harmonizing blockchain technology across government agencies to promote interoperability and interdependence.  

NITDA chief, Kashifu Abdullahi, while receiving the delegates, indicated that the proposed project will get the private sector working together with the public sector. Also, he agreed that the proposed blockchain would improve national security and the safety of citizen’s data.

When will Nigerium be launched?

It has been confirmed that Nigerium will be built by NITDA. However, Hadiza Umar, the agency’s head of corporate affairs and external relations told Decrypt that there is no timeline for its development and implementation. 

The Nigerium project, if it eventually gets approval, will be a product of a collaborative effort between NITDA and stakeholders which include government agencies and private sector organizations. 

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