Nigeria adopts Beneficial Ownership Data Standard for its new national register
Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, Acting Registrar General of the Zambia Patents and Companies Registration Agency, Wilson Banda, Executive Director of Open Ownership, Thom Townsend, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment of Nigeria, Okechukwu E. Enelamah, World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri, and other esteemed representatives of Government Agencies.
Nigeria has become the first African country to collect beneficial ownership data in line with Open Ownership’s data standard and has committed to making this information public.
Unveiled yesterday by the Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigeria’s updated Persons with Significant Control Register uses the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS) to gather high-quality structured data on the beneficial owners of Nigerian companies.
This means that government agencies such as the Bureau of Public Procurement, Federal Inland Revenue Service, National Identity Management Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, among others, can now more easily make use of this data. This includes combining this data with other datasets such as public procurement and extractive industry data and connecting it with beneficial ownership data from across the globe.
It is the latest sign that beneficial ownership transparency is gaining momentum across Africa. 23 of 54 African countries now have relevant laws and regulations in place, according to recent analysis by the Tax Justice Network and Tax Justice Network Africa.
Speaking at the launch event, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission said: “The expectation is that the Register would greatly enhance the fight against corruption and criminality by facilitating investigations by law enforcement agencies into the true ownership and control of companies and limited liability partnerships; supporting civil society organisations in promoting citizens’ participation in public accountability and governance, as well as strengthening the capacity of the media to perform their traditional roles as watchdogs of the society.”
The Registrar-General also described the launch of this register as a product of the unparalleled support of the World Bank and the Open Government Partnership. This underscores the importance of coordination among development partners who have the financial and technical capacity to support countries as they progress from commitment to implementation on open government reforms, such as beneficial ownership transparency.
Thom Townsend, Executive Director of Open Ownership, speaking at the launch event.
Thom Townsend, Executive Director of Open Ownership, said: "Today is the product of seven years of assiduous efforts of the Government of Nigeria, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the World Bank, OGP and other key local and international stakeholders. This is really a beacon on how to deliver effective beneficial ownership reforms. The world is watching what happens next and this is where we see the delivery of the hope and objectives originally set out at the Anti-Corruption Summit by President Muhammed Buhari."
BODS is the world’s leading open standard for collecting, sharing and using data on beneficial ownership, resulting in data that is interoperable, more easily used and of higher quality. Developed by Open Ownership and Open Data Services, full documentation about BODS can be found at standard.openownership.org.
Since mid-2022, Open Ownership’s data and technology team has provided hands-on support to the Corporate Affairs Commission’s technical team working on the new register, providing guidance to enhance data quality and coverage.
This latest phase of Open Ownership’s engagement builds on our support to the Nigerian government over several years, as they developed the legal and regulatory framework for beneficial ownership transparency. The support on the Persons with Significant Control Register has taken place alongside work by Open Ownership to build the technical capacity of stakeholders and provide training for journalists and civil society organisations in the country. Our experts also supported the development of Nigeria’s newly expanded beneficial ownership regulations published by the Corporate Affairs Commission in early 2023.
Nigeria now joins fellow Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group members Latvia and Armenia on the list of countries which have adopted BODS.
Open Ownership is engaged widely across the African continent, and is supporting countries through their beneficial ownership journey. Over the last year Open Ownership has provided technical assistance to government agencies in countries including Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa to implement beneficial ownership reforms, and worked with governments in several more countries in the region to facilitate capacity building and peer learning.
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Beneficial Ownership Data Standard