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ICT bailed Nigeria out of COVID-19 induced recession —Abdullahi


…NITDA has touched over 2.5m lives

Chidi Ogbuokiri

As the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) celebrates its 20 years of service to the country, Director General of the agency, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said the agency has grown beyond the dreams of its founders, adding that NITDA was established to implement the Nigerian National IT policy, “which I can confidently say that we have delivered 100 per cent with higher and deeper impacts to the nation’s economy.

“ Now, we talk of resilience because NITDA sees digital technologies as a source of inspiration to reinvent and meet the digital age challenges in an increasingly dynamic and competitive world.”

He noted that the agency has made a difference and touched the lives of more than 2.5 million Nigerians, saying the impact is visible across the country, and could be attested to by the outcomes.

According to him the ICT sector bailed Nigeria out of a Covid-19 induced recession that was predicted to crush the Nigerian spirit, saying the sector have attracted more foreign investments into the digital economy sector than any developing country globally.

He stated that the sector’s developmental regulations have created new economic industry such as business process outsourcing, data protection and a robust software industry.

Abdullahi said despite the modest achievements recorded by the agency, NITDA is not oblivious of the multi-dimensional challenges confronting the country. “But we believe there is a silver lining for innovation to create prosperity for all. We have an excellent opportunity to leapfrog into the future through the 4th industrial revolution. We are blessed with the most prominent black diaspora, resilient and resourceful youths, solid and diverse culture, abundant natural resources etc.”

He affirmed that the NITDA of the next decade is prepared to act as an institutional catalyst to actualise the long-held dream of every Nigerian to build a nation where peace, prosperity and justice shall reign.

According to him, the foundation for this dream has been laid by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, championed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, who has a laser-focused vision of digitalising Nigeria. “This vision has been well articulated by the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS),” he said. “The NDEPS is an overarching policy vision that needs strategic action by all relevant stakeholders to become a reality. NITDA, no doubt, is pivotal to the implementation of the NDEPS. It is for this purpose that the agency has initiated a thorough strategy drafting process as introduced by my predecessor Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami. This process was carried out in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders by identifying gaps and opportunities in Nigeria’s digital economy aspiration.”

He said critical government policies and documents such as the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship policy, National Broadband Action Plan, Cybersecurity Policy, amongst others, were consulted to have strategy coherence, a process that culminated in the NITDA Strategic Roadmap Plan and Action Plan (SRAP).

He stated that the objectives of the strategy are: to articulate a new strategy for NITDA in accordance with the current aspirations of the Government, the realities of today and the demands of the future; to contribute its quota towards the implementation of NDEPS, especially within the framework of its mandate; and to implement programmes that would facilitate the digital transformation of Nigeria.

According to Abdullahi, this SRAP is built on seven pillars with their respective goals and objectives, which are:

1) Developmental Regulation: This pillar will foster dynamic regulatory instruments that will unlock opportunities across different sectors of the economy.

2)Digital Literacy and Skills: This pillar will enable the development of digital skills of Nigerians across different works of life as well as support the goal of achieving a 95% digital literacy level in the next ten years.

3) Digital Transformation: This pillar will provide a robust digital platform to drive digitalisation processes in the digital economy.

4) Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship: This pillar will enable innovation-driven enterprises and Micro, small and medium enterprises to thrive. We expect that the outcome of this pillar will create opportunities for job creation.

5) Cybersecurity: This pillar will strengthen cyberspace and reduce vulnerabilities exploitable by threat actors to create a vibrant digital economy. This will, in turn, protect the digital asset and allow citizens to have confidence in the digital economy.

6) Emerging Technologies: This pillar will facilitate the adoption and adaptation of emerging technologies in Nigeria. This pillar will map the development of the digital economy with sustainable development goals in providing quality education, poverty eradication, good health and well-being, reducing inequalities et cetera.

7) Promotion of Indigenous Content: This pillar will create an enabling environment for promoting and adopting indigenous innovation for a digital economy. This pillar will develop indigenous products and services, increase patronage, and create an enabling condition for iterative problem-solving by indigenous digital technology.

Notably, every pillar has its goals, initiatives to drive the attainment of the goals, objectives and desired impact. Additionally, the agency introduced a new approach by formation of workstreams into the implementation process. This workstream approach will aid the harmonisation of roles, smoother planning, cross pollination of ideas and better inter-deparmental planning.

“In conclusion, I want to assure you that our best days are yet to come. We have all we need to become the best we can. NITDA is willing, able and ready to support every Nigerian to achieve the goal of a digital and prosperous Nigeria,” he said.

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