The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has said the fifth generation (5G) network is one of the technologies that has a crucial role to play in the upcoming fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
He stated this in his contribution as a panelist on the topic – ‘The evolution of 5G networks and Internet of things (IoT) in Africa’ at the ongoing virtual Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2021 (DA2021).
He said the 5G network, currently driving the world toward the 4th Industrial Revolution, had been described as very crucial to bringing the people together in a global village.
He pointed out that NITDA in its Strategic Road Map and Action Plan 2021-2024 had identified the importance of promoting and exploiting emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, IoT, etc.
Represented by the agency’s acting director, digital economic development department, Engr Salisu Kaka, he described NITDA as a critical player under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy that is committed to implementing the Nigerian Digital Economic Policy and Strategy.
“In that policy, there is need to develop a digital Nigeria by exploiting emerging technologies,” he said, adding promotion of the emerging technologies would create more jobs and improve the economy of the country.
“There are deliberate attempts to set up mechanisms that will coordinate these emerging technologies, which will lead to the engagement of the society, especially the youth, innovators and the entrepreneurs,” he stated.
The NITDA boss added that it was imperative to engage this particular group of people because they are the direct beneficiaries of the enormous data generated by the Internet of Things, 5G technologies and Big Data Analytics, stating that the agency had set up the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence as well as the Office of Nigerian Digital Innovation which would both create enabling environments that would allow exploration of these technologies and ensure their effective use.
Saying innovations come with disruptions of normal processes, Abdullahi pointed out the necessity to come up with regulations, adding the government owed it as a duty to ensure that policy provisions were put in place to ensure inclusion of private business owners. “Private business owners don’t exploit where there is no potential, so, it is important for government to put in place interventions that will be attractive” the DG added.
He said that the NITDA developed an initiative called ‘National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA), with the aim of bringing emerging technologies, such as the IoT’s and the 5G technology into the agricultural sector.
“We piloted this initiative in 2019 and 2020 and it has given great results”, Abdullahi stated. He further disclosed that the agency launched another initiative, the ‘National Adopted Schools for Smart Education (NASSE)’ with the aim of incorporating these emerging technologies into the educational sector as well, and expanding the potentials of the sector.
He said the regulatory approach adopted by the agency, which is a developmental regulation, was essential in creating a plain level ground for business regulations where these emerging technologies would be effectively utilized, thereby realizing the economic diversification of the nation and the African continent at large.
“In NITDA, we have refocused our process of making these policies user friendly, because it encourages participation of the private sector and the society, towards the development of these regulatory provisions for the 5G technology and other emerging technologies, which is why we refer to it as developmental regulations,” he added.