FG Moves to Enforce Digital Regulation

Ijedi Philomena Iyoha

Ijedi Philomena Iyoha

Raheem Akingbolu in Accra

Social media influencers and other purveyors of unregulated advertising contents in Nigeria may soon begin to face sanctions as federal government is set to put up a regulatory framework to regulate the emerging digital industry.

Speaking on Tuesday in Ghana, at the third Africa Leadership Conference, organised by the International Advertising Association (IAA), Acting Registrar, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Mrs. Ijedi Philomena Iyoha, admitted that digital revolution has become a huge bottleneck for advertising regulation, adding that government, through APCON and other stakeholders have started making move to put a framework in place to address the abnormal situation.

Iyoha, who took part in a panel discussion on the theme: “Brand Blocking: Regulations and Threats to Consumer Choices and Goods,” stated that there was nothing like digital when the Nigerian advertising code was put together, hence the need for review.

She said: “Much as I agree that digital is a blessing, I’m concerned about its threat to advertising regulation because a lot of unregulated messages are being churned out by bloggers and influencers on products to deceive consumers and regulators have almost become helpless.

“There is code of advertising in Nigeria but it was dated back to many years before digital revolution. Of course this is a global phenomenon but like other countries, Nigeria is set to put framework in place to check the abuse of digital platform,”

On the first day of the conference, the IAA Global President, Srinivasan K. Swarmy, expressed concern that data privacy had become a serious concern for advertisers and that the industry could collapse if the recent regulations on the issue are not revised.

He argued that data protection issues based on digital advertising needed urgent attention before more stringent regulations are passed.
“Considering data privacy, it has been an area of serious concern for advertisers. Many regulators are coming to play to deal with this area. This challenge must be addressed if not it will be a problem for advertising companies,” he stated.

Also speaking at the conference, the Vice president and Area Director of Africa, Norkor Duah, charged all advertising firms to create footprints in the various economies they represent and that practitioners should embrace new trends in technology so as to remain relevant.

“It’s about revenue, reputation, research and regulation. Across the continent, there are so many issues regarding regulations that we need to address.
“Without effective regulation, we can’t forge ahead. New technological trends keep emerging. It is in our interest to tap into this for the good of the industry,” she stated.

Earlier, the Vice President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, used the occasion to announce June 2020 as the dateline for all government agencies and ministries in the country to go cashless.

Bawumia said mobile money payments interoperability system that allows the transfer of funds from mobile money accounts to bank accounts (back-to-back) and from mobile or bank accounts to biometric payment card accounts (ezwich) means practically, every Ghanaian can enjoy banking services, in fulfillment of the pledge to give every Ghanaian access to a bank account.

“Mobile Money Interoperability has provided most of the unbanked and under banked with access to a transaction account that serves as a gateway to other financial services.

“If you have a Mobile Money (MoMo) account in Ghana you are no longer excluded from the financial system. Every user of a MoMo account can now use that account like a traditional bank account.

“Since a mobile money account now functions like a bank account we can confidently say that Ghana has solved the problem of basic financial inclusion. It is in this context that we said previously that Mobile Money Interoperability will give every Ghanaian access to a bank account.”

Experts described Ghana’s payment system architecture as one of the most advanced in Africa, and with 34.5 million registered mobile money accounts in Ghana for a country with a population of about 30 million, the use of Mobile money is becoming a way of life.

“Within the next year, we intend to integrate all payment channels to provide a platform for receipt of all government payments electronically. The kind of digital payments architecture that we are building has enabled the filing of tax returns and paying taxes electronically”, Vice President Bawumia disclosed

The vice president explained that the need to go cashless is aimed at ensuring efficiency and reducing corruption in the country.
“At least, by June 2020, the government will no longer receive cash payments. We are going cashless. We did a pilot with the Foreign Affairs ministry and the revenues increased fourfold. The technology is now available, we hope to make good use of it,” he said.

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