The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has declared readiness to partner the Republic of Namibia in the areas of innovations and entrepreneurship to promote a digital market through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
The director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, made this known when he received the high commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria and permanent representative to ECOWAS, Mr. Humphrey Geiseh, saying NITDA would find viable routes to promote a stronger relationship and develop technological products between the two countries.
Abdullahi stated that the agency had been implementing the National IT Policy until 2019 when the ministry’s mandate was expanded to cover digital economy, describing communications as not an end but a means to an end.
He said it was important to calibrate activities and align them with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which, he explained, necessitated the agency to come up with a new Strategic Road Map and Action Plan, adding emerging technologies which is a strategic pillar in the road map should be used to create and capture technological values in Africa.
“These emerging technologies come with promises and perils and the agency’s focus is to avoid the perils and achieve the promises,” he pointed out.
He disclosed that the agency established the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics specifically for researching best ways to apply these technologies in the health and agricultural sectors among others. “I will invite you to visit our centre as well and see how you can borrow some of the ideas and domesticate it in Namibia,” Abdullahi said.
The DG mentioned that promoting indigenous and local content, which is another strategic pillar of the agency was aimed at supporting local start-ups and encouraging made in Africa products.
He opined that African countries should share experiences and ideas in order to build world class products, adding it is easier to procure products from neighbouring countries rather than other continents.
“Micro, small and medium enterprises in the country provide about 95 per cent of the workforce and produce more than 50 per cent of the nation’s GDP. It is therefore necessary to ignite processes in the digital ecosystem with the use of technology. Innovations don’t happen in isolation, you need to connect with what others are doing in other parts of the world and apply them domestically to create wealth for the nation and the continent at large,” Abdullahi noted.
The NITDA boss further said agriculture, which is one of the major sources of income in Namibia was one of the areas the agency identified in which technology could be used as a game changer, adding the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture, (NAVSA) which is one of the initiatives of the agency could help Namibia boost her productivity in agriculture.
“This is an area we can explore partnership where we can get some startups who can develop solutions for you and on our part, also learn how you manage your agricultural business.
“NITDA has a yearly flagship programme called ‘e-Nigeria’, an international conference and exhibition programme where local start-ups are invited to showcase their products, and this year’s programme would be tagged ‘Digital Nigeria’ because of the evolution from electronic to digital system.
“We are having a one-week Digital Nigeria International Conference and we are extending the invitation to you. You can bring people from Namibia to the conference to have a glimpse of our ecosystem where you will meet some of our startups, share ideas, challenges and see how we can use technology to grow our economy as a continent,” he added.
Earlier, Geiseh described Namibia and Nigeria as fellow African countries that have been long standing friends since Namibia’s independence.
The envoy disclosed that Namibia has a population of about 2.4 million and almost one-third of her population are internet users according to statistics as of 2018, pointing out that the country was committed to providing necessary opportunities for the youth to be exposed to concepts and technologies that would dominate their lives in the near future.
“In Namibia, we recognise the role of the youth in the development of the country and in the future prosperity of the nation which has prompted our visit today to basically know how your agency has advanced in the areas of ICT so we can identify common challenges and proffer solutions in areas where both countries can work together,” he added.