The director-general of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi says COVID-19 pandemic accelerated Nigeria’s digital transformation journey for a digital economy.
He stated this when he made his presentation at the 8th Annual Instalment of the International Data Corporation (IDC) West Africa CIO Summit 2021 with the theme – ‘Innovation strategies evolving on the demand of new realities is exciting’.
He quoted Economy Africa reports 2020 as saying that by 2025, the value of internet economy in Africa would reach $180b, accounting for about 5.2 per cent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and by 2050 its projection is estimated to be $712b, about 8.5 per cent of the continent’s GDP.
“Innovation drives growth in the internet economy, process of taking ideas from inception to impact inspired three digital capabilities; firstly, Ubiquitous Data which is used to make decision and have information at your disposal anytime.
“Secondly, Unlimited Connectivity particularly Internet of Things (IoT) which eases connectivity and learning things easily. Lastly, Massive Computing Processing Power which has no limit to what can be processed. These capabilities are the source of inspiration that ignites innovation and creates demand in the digital era.
“The global advancement and digital technologies are making the world a better place. We are inspired to deliver rapid business innovations and new customer value prepositions. African start-ups coming up with unique business models, digital transformation platforms and services that create incredible value with a significant impact on human lives and the economy which indicates that Africa will not miss the Fourth Industrial Revolution unlike the first, second and third industrial era where we lost out in creating and capturing values across the globe,” he said.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had laid foundation for a digital Nigeria by expanding the mandate of Ministry of Communications to cover digital economy, with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami having a larger focussed vision of digitalizing the country.
“In 2019, the ministry formulated a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria which serves as laid down foundation to create and capture value from innovation in the digital economy.
“The implementation of the strategies within 2years, has significantly impacted the economy with the digital sector being the fastest growing sector which bailed out the country from COVID-19-induced recession.
“Nigerian National Digital Economy Policy and Strategies primary implementer crafted the Strategic Roadmap and Action plan SERAP 2021-2024 with the objectives: Articulating new strategies for the Nigerian ecosystem in accordance with the current aspirations of the government and the new realities of today and the future demands. This was built on seven (7) strategic pillars, namely developmental regulation, digital literacy and digital skills, digital transformation, digital innovation and entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies,” he explained.
He averred that part of the NDEPS was to develop and innovate solutions using emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blockchain and IoT among others to provide quality life, education, poverty eradication, health and wellbeing. He cited CB Insights 2021 which reported that there are total of six unicorn companies in Africa out of which 3 are from Nigeria, namely Flutterwave, Interswitch and Jumia respectively.
Abdullahi encouraged chief information officers from organizations and corporate nations to focus more on initiating digital innovation strategies considering global digital trends and new realities.
“Every organization or country is unique and has its peculiarities but the digital strategies will provide a map for your journey. Our dream in Africa is to be digitally self-reliant and become a digital hub for digital services exportation, a critical driver for digital transformation and a frontier for vibrant and highly competitive digital economy. Our youthful population, location and time zone are our competitive age, and we the CIO’s are the drivers of our dreams in our respective organizations and countries, being proactive and responding to opportunities offered by technological innovations,” he added.