Nigeria Explores Building Its Own ‘Nigerium’ Blockchain

Nigeria intends to build a blockchain system to cater to local needs and boost its “data sovereignty.” Nicknamed Nigerium, the blockchain will be built by the country’s National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

However, a spokesperson for NITDA told Decrypt on Monday that there is no timeline for its development and implementation. 

“[The] committee is still in discussion with stakeholders on the possibility,” said Hadiza Umar, NITDA’s head of corporate affairs and external relations. “Even if a decision is finally made, there is no assurance that the name will be Nigerium.”

Nigerium is expected to address various challenges related to data security and transparency, providing a more secure and efficient means of conducting transactions. The blockchain will “ensure secure and transparent transactions across various sectors,” NITDA Director-General Kashifu Inuwa said.

It could play a crucial role in Nigeria’s digital economy, driving innovations in finance, healthcare, and public services. The country’s cryptocurrency industry is estimated to be worth $400 million.

The launch of Nigerium aligns with Nigeria’s national blockchain policy, which seeks to foster a robust digital economy.  Nigeria launched a national blockchain policy in May of last year. The policy will “create a blockchain-powered economy that supports secure transactions, data sharing, and value exchange between people, businesses, and government,” the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy said at the time. 

The plan contrasts with the country’s previous crackdown on the digital assets industry. Nigeria’s central bank (CBN) and the Security and Exchange Commission had warned at different times that the anonymity provided by virtual currencies could foster fraud, terrorism financing, and volatility.

This initiative follows the country’s increasing interest in blockchain technology, as illustrated by previous efforts to regulate and integrate digital assets into the economy. The nation’s securities regulator has given crypto firms a late July deadline to register or face enforcement action.

“Developing an indigenous blockchain like Nigerium is a significant step towards achieving data sovereignty and fostering trust in digital transactions within Nigeria,” said Chanu Kuppuswamy, a blockchain expert at the University of Hertfordshire Law.

Kuppuswamy led a team from the university who suggested the idea of developing the blockchain. She argued that Nigerium would allow Nigeria to adapt the technology to its needs and be built in accordance with its existing laws. 

Kuppuswamy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Decrypt.

The development of Nigerium is also seen as a strategic move to reduce dependency on foreign blockchain technologies. However, Umar insisted the blockchain to be developed will not necessarily focus on data sovereignty itself. 

“Rather, measures will be implemented in the eventual blockchain solutions to maintain data sovereignty,” she told Decrypt

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