The Continued Growth of the E-Naira
The Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”) introduced its digital currency (eNaira) in October 2021, to increase financial inclusion and make cross-border payments easier for enterprises, among other things. Within a month of eNaira’s launch, it is reported that 400,000 accounts were created and over 12,500 transactions were made within the network.
However, the lack of quality mobile networks and the limited spread of internet-enabled devices have been a significant bottleneck in the acceptance of the eNaira. This is so because, in most rural regions of Nigeria, network penetration is still heavily dependent on 2G and 3G networks, which spells difficulty for enaira transactions hinged on the internet. Again, owing to the indigent status of a significant fraction of the Nigerian populace, owning internet-enabled devices may be put on hold in favour of more immediate necessities.
Accordingly, if the primary stated purpose of the creation and launch of eNaira is to promote financial inclusion, the highlighted issues may pose a threat to achieving that goal.
In this circumstance, it is highly commendable that the CBN, in a bid to overcome these obstacles, has elected to deploy the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) approach in 2022 to reach the most remote parts of the country without relying on network penetration or possessing an internet-enabled device before users can access the numerous benefits that the eNaira provides.
A further concern associated with the launch of the enaira is the attendant cybersecurity threats that may arise. Indeed, owing to the fact that the enaira is essentially digital, the threats of cybercriminals, compromised networks, and possible data losses are all digital realities that must be tackled head-on.
Commendably, the CBN has assured Nigerians that appropriate processes have been put in place to protect the eNaira against cybercriminals. Similarly, having studied the operational indices of the launch of the enaira in the country, the International Monetary Fund, beyond pledging to provide technical support to Nigeria on cybersecurity issues, has advised that the country enhance its capacity to conduct regular security assessments as a sure way of handling cybersecurity threats. Our article contains details on the launch of the enaira and its implication for stakeholders.
To this end, it is hoped that the Federal Government will invest in the training of security agencies and the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment to combat cybercrime. As Nigeria already has comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, the Cybercrimes Act, 2015, it is only pragmatic that the enabling grounds to enforce its lofty provisions are put in place.
The propriety of Nigeria acceding to international cybersecurity conventions cannot be overemphasized. It is important to emphasize that, in light of the decision of the United Nation’s General Assembly to design a new global treaty on cybersecurity in 2022, Nigeria must actively participate in the said deliberations as part of steps to ensure that it adopts the best global practices in ensuring cybersecurity.