Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Abdullahi Inaugurates NDSS, Volunteers Expert Group

NITDA Volunteer Group
The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi (middle top) and other members of the group during their virtual inauguration.

The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has inaugurated the Volunteers Expert Groups (VEGs) for the National Digital Skills Strategy (NDSS), aimed at positioning Nigeria as a global digital talent factory capable of filling the 85 million talent deficit as predicted by Korn Ferry in its report titled ‘The $8.5 trillion Talent Shortage by 2030’. 

Speaking during the virtual ceremony, the NITDA boss stated that it is a momentous milestone in our efforts to harmoniously engage with vibrant and talented experts across different IT domains, aimed at co-creating the NDSS. He urged them to come up with a comprehensive strategy for setting up standards and developing digital literacy and skills in the country, as well as developing IT professional skills of different proficiency levels. 

Abdullahi reiterated four competitive advantages Nigeria has of becoming an ideal nation to take the unfilled job opportunities, as Nigeria has the largest population of youths in the world. He said the Nigerian government recognizes the importance of digital skills and is supporting it through investing in capacity-building while implementing policies to promote digital inclusion by creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Nigerians are talented, ambitious and willing to learn and connect to the global value chain. The Nigerian digital economy is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with an annual growth rate of 15 per cent. This high growth rate suggests that there are ample opportunities to benefit from it.”

Abdullahi asserted that the National Digital Skills and Strategy (NDSS) will focus on balancing the gaps between the digital skills supply pipeline and in-demand skill sets required for the future of work.

Speaking earlier in her welcoming address, the acting director of the digital literacy and capacity building department, Dr. Amina Magaji stated that there was an open call application for Nigerians, both at home and abroad, to apply for the NDSS VEG.

A rigorous screening process was deployed to identify key experts capable of adding value to the strategy. The selected persons have built expertise within their different ecosystems or workgroup, either in building their skills or in skills of developing strategies, or building ecosystems specifically in the technology and innovation ecosystem. 

“The VEG has been grouped into four clusters, namely: digital literacy cluster, digital capacity cluster, IT professional cluster and M&E funding and partnership cluster, consisting of the lead, deputy lead and members,” she stated.

Explaining further, Magaji said the digital literacy cluster focuses on basics and foundation, while the digital capacity focuses on IT or Non-IT professional skills. The IT professional cluster focuses on Technology skills such as coding and non-coding skills, and the final cluster which is the M&E Funding & partnership cluster work with all three clusters by monitoring and evaluating the initiatives, the policies and the incentives within the documents as well as seek for fund and partnership.

Mr. Niran Oyekale of Commit Consult Ltd and the lead of the Digital Literacy Cluster appreciated the DG for changing the narrative of the digital space. “It is during your tenure as the DG NITDA that Nigeria will benefit from a strategic plan to empower Nigerians and make Nigeria very comfortable, competent and confident to move smoothly into the digital space”, he stated.

Mr. Ifeanyi Emmanuel Okafor of Teeside University and the lead of the IT Professionals’ Cluster, assured the DG that this dream is a wonderful one and will go down as one of the greatest creations in the history of the nation. He commended the DG for his commitment and solicited more support.

Mr. Charles Emembolu of Techquest Stem Academy, and the lead of the Digital Capacity Building Cluster, applauded the DG for his relentless effort in working with Nigerian startups towards the achievement of the National Digital Skill Scheme. He commended the agency’s team for the zeal, effort, guidance and support rendered.

Also, the lead for the M&E, Funding & Partnership Cluster, Mr. Sam Emmanuel of Semicolon appreciated this opportunity given to him to contribute his quota in the establishment of the National Digital Skill Strategy.

Being a national document, the outcome of the VEG’s activities will be further developed with key government stakeholders that will work together to bring the strategy to life before commencing wider socialisation.

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