President Tinubu’s Leadership Boosts Nigeria’s Tech Sector – NITDA Boss

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According to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), President Bola Tinubu’s first year in office has significantly influenced the technology sector and established Nigeria as a global hub for talent.

The Director-General of NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa, said this on Sunday in Abuja.

Inuwa said that President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, which had eight priority areas, propelled the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to recreate her five key areas of development.

He said the eight priority areas included reforming the economy, strengthening national security, boosting agriculture, unlocking energy and natural resources, and enhancing infrastructure and transportation.

Others were focusing on education, health, social investment, accelerating diversification through industrialization, digitization, creative manufacturing & innovation, and improving governance.

Hinging on the seventh priority area, which was accelerating diversification through industrialization, digitization, creative manufacturing, and innovation, Inuwa said the agency came up with a strategic roadmap and action plan as a guide.

The director-general said the roadmap focused on eight areas, which were fostering digital literacy and cultivating talent, building a robust technology research ecosystem, and strengthening policy implementation and legal frameworks.

Other action plans included promoting inclusive access to digital infrastructure and services, strengthening cybersecurity and enhancing digital trust, and nurturing an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In achieving the digital literacy action plan, we developed the National Digital Literacy Framework, which was targeted at achieving 95 percent digital literacy by 2030.

We floated a mid-term target of achieving 70 percent by 2027, which within the four years of President Tinubu’s administration, should be achieved.

We have also collaborated with the Ministry of Education to review schools’ curricula and infuse digital literacy in our formal education system.

We had other initiatives targeting women, children, people with special needs, artisans, and civil servants, so we can carry everyone to achieve that 95 percent digital literacy.’’

On the second pillar, he said the agency had forged collaborations both locally and internationally to enable it to engage in research and development that could drive national security.

On the third, Inuwa said the agency was working on and reviewing the Digital Public Infrastructure Standard, BlockChain Policy, and Data Strategy to promote open data and innovation.

On promoting access to digital infrastructure and services, we have so many initiatives to reach the underserved and unserved communities and connect citizens so that everybody will be part of this digital revolution.

We also signed an agreement with Cisco, where we will work together to design digital learning hubs to be implemented across the country.

We will co-design, co-create, and execute all the initiatives together, and that will bring other development partners and government agencies to be part of it,’’ he said.

According to him, this will help us achieve that inclusivity. In addition to that, we are working with other partners like GIZ under the Digital Transformation Centre in Nigeria.

We are doing an assessment on the need for innovation hubs across the country so that we will have at least one innovation hub in each state.

We are also designing technology development zones in six geopolitical zones, one in each geopolitical zone.

This will enable innovators to go to innovation hubs to tender their ideas and innovations and turn them into products and services.

According to Inuwa, the technology development zone, after prototyping, you can come for mass production at the technology development zones.

We can leapfrog the industrialization of Nigeria through smart manufacturing. That is why, under the technologies, additive manufacturing is one of them,’’ he said.

The NITDA boss said the agency created awareness programmes, hackathons, engagement with citizens, collaboration with other countries, ministries, departments, and agencies in Nigeria to strengthen cyberspace, and shared intelligence and analysis reports.

On nurturing innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems, Inuwa said the agency had been encouraging talents to build digital offerings in the country.

Under this roadmap, we have identified the Nigerian Start-up Act as a tool to provide a legal and institutional framework to promote innovative start-ups.

We launched the start-up portal about four months ago; we have invited start-ups to register, and we have over 12,000 start-ups that have registered, and we are doing the labelling.’’

The NITDA boss explained that the labelling was a process whereby all start-ups could register for easy identification and to know their strengths and weaknesses.

According to him, it will help us design interventions for them, upscale them, and give them access to incentives as identified in the Nigerian Start-up Act.

He also recalled that the Federal Executive Council, on May 14, approved the use of the Nigerian facility in California, U.S.A., to be the Nigerian start-up house.

Inuwa added that the facility would promote technology transfer between the Nigerian start-up ecosystem and the US start-up ecosystem.

On fostering strategic partnerships and collaboration, he said the agency was synergizing with relevant stakeholders to ensure that efforts made in the ecosystem had an impact.

We recently started a partnership with CISCO, through the countries’ digital acceleration programme, to implement five initiatives with them.

We are going to repurpose the NCAIR, build a cybersecurity experience centre with them, establish a broadband innovation hub, build a demonstration smart agricultural farm, design and execute technology learning hubs, and enhance defence technology solutions.

We are also engaging with other big players like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and we signed an MOU to build an innovation hub in Abuja.

We are implementing other initiatives with them, like i-Hatch, where we train start-ups and they provide seed capital for them,’’ he said.

Inuwa recalled that in 2023, JICA provided 15,000 dollars to each start-up that participated in the i-Hatch programme and was hoping to expand the same to the 36 states of the federation.

According to him, we are also partnering with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and many more.

Through collaborations, we can connect Nigeria for networking, technology, and knowledge transfer.

On the eight pillars of cultivating a vibrant organisational culture and agile workforce in NITDA, he said the agency needed to be on par with technology trends, hence the continuous in-house training.

We started with the culture of reorientation and cultural assessment, and we believe we have made significant steps.

Formerly, NITDA had about 90 percent of its workers from the mainstream public service, but today we are more like a private sector when it comes to efficiency and productivity.’’

Inuwa added that the agency was committed to making the remaining years of President Tinubu successful by ensuring Nigerians were carried along to derive the benefit of the digital economy.

He encouraged Nigerians to be patient with the administration, adding that the government was taking steps to ameliorate the economic hardships of the people. 

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