Digital Economy: Gambian Minister Commends Nigerian Start-Ups, Seeks Collaboration 

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L-R: The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi and the Gambian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ousman Bah.

The Gambian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ousman Bah has lauded the innovative efforts of Nigerian start-ups, describing the nation’s tech ecosystem as “progressive”.  

Bah gave the commendation over the weekend after a tour of the National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), a special purpose vehicle of NITDA, led by the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi and the national director of the NCAIR, Engr. Ya’u Garba.  

According to Bah, the Nigerian Startup Tech Ecosystem is impressive.

“For the last four days I have been in Nigeria, I have been impressed. I lived in the United States of America for 32 years; I have done a lot of tech stuff, managed a lot of tech people in my life but what I have seen here is phenomenal. The commitment, the drive and the innovativeness of young Nigerians is unspeakable.”

While affirming that members of his team have greatly learnt a lot from the experiences and knowledge gathered, especially from the digital skills workforce of the country, the minister noted that his country hopes to replicate the ideas to boost her digital economy. 

“Going back to The Gambia, we have a lot to take from here and put it into practice, as well as starting our digital transformation.

“Nonetheless, continue to do what you are doing. As your Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami said, the reward for good work is more work. You guys have a lot of work to do and we have a lot to learn from you. I appreciate this,” Bah maintained.

Also, he challenged African leaders to technologically change the story of the continent for good and to take pride in solving the vast amount of problems facing humanity.

“I think we Africans and, as leaders, need to encourage, empower and motivate ourselves towards taking the front seat in critical areas of the world’s economy. We can do it if we make it a collective effort. If they can do it in the West we can do it here,” he reasoned. 

He assured the Nigerian team that plans are ongoing to have both countries start engaging in mutually beneficial collaborations, particularly in the digital economy sector, to encourage technology transfer and support each other to reap the benefits of emerging technologies and grow the digital markets. 

“I suggested that we collaborate, hopefully, sign an MoU and engage others in areas we can mutually benefit. I think that will be the next step,” Bah assured. 

During the brief tour of the centre, Bah, who came to Nigeria to attend the maiden edition of the Digital Nigeria Conference and Exhibition at different times, was surprised at the quality equipment and innovations of startups in the facility.

Responding, Abdullahi noted that the relationship between both countries is not new, as they have enjoyed bilateral relations over the years.

He expressed delight at Bah’s appraisal of Nigeria’s digital transformation and enumerated other plans/initiatives of the agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Abdullahi assured the minister of Nigeria’s support towards growing the African continent in becoming the destination of choice for digital markets.

The NITDA boss hoped that the global talent gap would be bridged with Nigerian talented startups rising to the challenge.

“The Start-up Bill, which was recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, would address the bottlenecks stifling the growth of the tech ecosystem,” he assured.

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