The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has touted blockchain technology as having the ability to propel Nigeria’s transition into a digital economy.
Abdullahi, who was speaking at the London Blockchain Conference, expressed his belief that Nigeria’s adoption of the National Blockchain Policy would facilitate its transition into a digital economy. The agency’s director of information technology infrastructure solutions, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, represented the DG during a panel discussion titled “Blockchain Innovation Programme: Changing Lives Through BSV Education,” held at the Queen Elizabeth II International Conference Centre in Westminster, London, United Kingdom.
During the panel discussion, the NITDA boss informed the global blockchain community about Nigeria’s innovative strategies aimed at promoting the widespread adoption of this transformative technology. The National Blockchain Policy for Nigeria, approved by the Federal Executive Council on May 3, 2023, and unveiled by former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, on May 16, 2023, was designed to drive Nigeria’s digital economy transition. By leveraging blockchain technology, the policy aims to boost innovation, enhance public services, create job opportunities, reduce corruption and foster economic growth.
It is worth mentioning that the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS) was introduced by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. With digital society and emerging technologies as one of its pillars, NITDA, as the key implementing agency, formulated the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan. This plan encompasses seven strategic pillars, namely developmental regulation, digital literacy and skills, digital entrepreneurship, indigenous content development and promotion, digital transformation, cybersecurity and emerging technologies.
The implementation of the National Blockchain Policy for Nigeria will focus on three key areas: talent development, innovation, and adoption. Its objectives include improving transparency and accountability, enhancing efficiency and security, promoting financial inclusion and job creation and driving economic growth. Furthermore, the policy aims to foster innovation, improve government services, promote citizen engagement, and strengthen public trust in governance.
Abdullahi emphasised the global demand for skilled professionals and Nigeria’s significant potential in supplying highly skilled labour to the global market. With a population of over 200 million, Nigeria accounts for approximately 50 per cent of West Africa’s population.
To tap into this potential, NITDA commissioned the National Talent Gap Assessment, which led to the development of the National Digital Skills Strategy. As part of the agency’s larger plan to establish Nigeria as a leading talent hub for blockchain innovation and development, the NITDA Blockchain Scholarship Scheme was launched. The scheme, implemented by Domineum Blockchain Technology Solutions in partnership with the BSV Blockchain Association through the BSV Blockchain Academy, aims to add 500,000 blockchain professionals to the talent pool. The first batch of the scholarship programme received an overwhelming response, with 92,000 applications and 32,000 successful completions.
Notably, Nigeria has secured the commitment of the BSV Blockchain Association, represented by Stefan Mathews, co-founder and executive chairman of the nChain Group and an executive committee member of the Bitcoin Association, for future batches of the scholarship program.
The agency’s head of corporate affairs and external relations, Mrs. Hadiza Umar highlighted that the National Blockchain Adoption Strategy was issued in 2021 following extensive consultations with stakeholders in the ecosystem.
The strategy focuses on six key initiatives: establishing the Nigeria Blockchain Consortium, strengthening the regulatory and legal framework, providing national digital identity, promoting blockchain digital literacy and awareness, creating blockchain business incentive programs, and establishing a National Blockchain Sandbox for proof of concepts and pilot implementation. The National Blockchain Policy builds upon the successes and lessons learned from the implementation of this strategy.
The director-general reiterated NITDA’s commitment to leveraging blockchain technology and other emerging technologies to transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy. By doing so, they aim to create a high quality of life and economic prosperity for all.