HomeCII/OTNigeria Suspends Cybersecurity Tax Following Public Outcry

Nigeria Suspends Cybersecurity Tax Following Public Outcry

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The Nigerian government recently made a significant decision to halt the implementation of a cybersecurity levy on domestic electronic transactions due to widespread criticism from the public. This move came after the administration faced backlash for increasing taxes during a severe economic crisis in the country.

Initially, the Central Bank of Nigeria directed financial institutions to start collecting the levy within two weeks, but following the outcry from citizens, President Bola Tinubu vowed to block the tax. Subsequently, a senior cabinet member officially suspended the measure on May 14, acknowledging the concerns raised by the public.

Nigeria, being one of the top three economies in Africa, is currently grappling with its most significant economic crisis in decades. With soaring inflation, diminishing international investments, and rising cost-of-living expenses, the average Nigerian citizen is finding it increasingly challenging to afford essential goods and services. The proposed cybersecurity levy would have added to the financial burden faced by the population.

In light of the economic challenges, Wale Ajayi, a partner at KPMG Nigeria, emphasized the need to consider the country’s prevailing economic conditions before advancing the national cybersecurity agenda. He highlighted the importance of dedicated funding to combat cyber threats but cautioned that the current economic climate did not justify the implementation of the cybersecurity levy at this time.

The decision to suspend the levy coincides with Nigeria’s efforts to enhance its cybersecurity capabilities. The country has been aiming to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals through initiatives like the Virtual Cyber Hub and the Cybersafe Foundation. However, Nigeria has a history of being a hub for cybercrime, particularly in social engineering scams.

Interestingly, the poor state of the economy could potentially lead to an increase in cyber risks for both individuals and businesses, as highlighted in the Nigeria Cybersecurity Outlook 2024 report by Deloitte. The report pointed out that insider-supported attacks might rise significantly due to financial motives, posing risks of data breaches and unauthorized access.

The cybersecurity levy, initially proposed in 2015, aimed to strengthen Nigeria’s national cybersecurity capabilities. The recent circular issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria mandated a 0.5% fee on electronic transactions to fund the National Cybersecurity Fund. While the levy was projected to generate substantial revenue, concerns were raised regarding the lack of cost justification and the potential impact on transaction methods.

Moving forward, experts suggest that transparency, accountability, and responsible spending practices should be prioritized by the government before implementing future tax reforms. It is essential to phase in such initiatives gradually to minimize shocks to the economy and ensure fiscal sustainability in the long run.

In conclusion, the Nigerian government’s decision to suspend the cybersecurity levy reflects a balance between addressing cyber threats and considering the economic hardships faced by its citizens. As the country navigates through challenging times, a strategic and cautious approach is necessary to uphold cybersecurity priorities while safeguarding the interests of the population.

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