The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has stated that Nigeria has the potential to significantly boost its digital economy by ensuring the equal participation of women.
Quoting statistics from the Council on Foreign Affairs (CoFA), he revealed that women’s participation in all sub-sectors of the digital economy is equivalent to men’s participation and the country stands to gain a whopping $230 billion in GDP growth by 2025. Abdullahi made these comments at a stakeholder press briefing organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs in Abuja, to commemorate the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) themed ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”.
Represented by his special assistant on strategy and innovation, Mrs. Iklima Salihu, Abdullahi noted that Nigeria’s female population was estimated to be 104 million in 2021 and as Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has much to gain by ensuring the inclusion of women in technology industries and bridging the digital divide. He stated that NITDA has been implementing several strategic programmes and initiatives over the years, which have seen an investment of $4.4 billion in the last four years.
The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which NITDA is primarily implementing, has the objective of bridging the digital gender gap by ensuring that digital skills training programs incorporate children, women, internally displaced persons and the physically challenged. Abdullahi highlighted some of the key initiatives designed to support technology innovation, including the Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Scheme (TIES), Idea Hatch (iHatch), Bridge to MassChallenge Nigeria and MIT-REAP Abuja. These initiatives have translated into the establishment of a vibrant innovation ecosystem and the creation of 33,500 direct and indirect jobs in 2020.
“In a bid to support digital literacy in women,” Abdullahi said, “NITDA has conducted capacity-building programs on ICT and entrepreneurship for 360 women in the various geopolitical zones. The implementation of the digital literacy initiative increases women’s awareness, knowledge and use of business tools that can help promote their entrepreneurial and career pursuits, increase distance learning and distance work programs and opportunities, as well as financial inclusion”.
Abdullahi added that the UN wishes to recognise women and girls who are championing the advancement of digital transformation and education this year. He acknowledged that different challenges arise in the form of social, economic, and cultural barriers, which are hindrances that forestall this inclusion. That is why NITDA has worked to create barrier-circumventing opportunities that will transform lives and create a positive domino effect that brings about greater values into society.