CBN’s Cybersecurity Levy Raises Concerns Over Encroachment on Telecom Regulation Authority

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The recent introduction of a cybersecurity levy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ignited a contentious debate surrounding the boundaries of regulatory authority in Nigeria’s telecommunications and financial sectors. The move has raised concerns among stakeholders, who perceive it as an encroachment on the traditional domain of the telecom regulator.

Under the guise of bolstering cybersecurity measures, the CBN has proposed a levy system aimed at financing initiatives to combat cybercrimes. While cybersecurity is undoubtedly a critical concern in the digital age, the manner in which the levy is being imposed has sparked apprehension among industry experts and stakeholders.

The AmehNews recall the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reason to established the Consumer Affairs  Bureau (CAB)in 2004, which has shown how the commission has long been the primary regulatory body overseeing security involving telecommunications in the country. With the enactment of the Cybercrime Act of 2015, the NCC has played a pivotal role in raising awareness about cyber threats and enforcing regulations to safeguard digital infrastructure.

As of today NCC has a New Media and Information Security Department to support the commission in the governance and security of the nation’s cyber space. According to a report excerpted from the Communicator publication by the Commission contained that the department has been upbeat on behalf of the commission in ensuring the implementation of Budapest convention on cybercrime and others tagged as Malabo Convention.

However, the CBN’s foray into cybersecurity arena through levy represents a significant departure from the established regulatory landscape. Critics argue that this move amounts to an overreach by the central bank into the domain traditionally governed by the NCC.

Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the potential implications of this levy on the telecommunications sector. Telecom operators may face increased financial burdens, which could ultimately be passed on to consumers through higher service charges. Moreover, the introduction of additional levies could stifle investment and innovation in the sector, hampering efforts to expand digital infrastructure and improve connectivity nationwide.

At the heart of the debate lies the question of regulatory jurisdiction and the appropriate division of responsibilities between the CBN and the NCC. While both institutions have roles to play in safeguarding Nigeria’s digital ecosystem, ensuring clarity and coherence in regulatory frameworks is paraunt to avoid confusion, duplication of efforts, and unintended consequences.

As discussions continue, stakeholders are calling for a transparent dialogue between regulatory bodies, industry players, and other relevant stakeholders to address concerns, clarify mandates, and chart a path forward that promotes both cybersecurity and the growth of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.

Moreover, NCC Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024) and the streamlined Strategic Vision Plan (2021-2025) are clear evidence that  NCC is active in the cybercrime ecosystem and also through its New Media and Information Security department has the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy Documented which include enlightenment programmes, Awareness Month in October annually program and annual conference on Cybersecurity etc.

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