The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has reiterated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to providing all the needed support to enable the growth and development of a thriving and globally competitive tech and innovation ecosystem.
Abdullahi who was represented by the director of zonal offices of the directorate (ZOD) of the agency, Babajide Ajayi, gave this reassurance at the recently concluded e-Government Hackathon organised by the Ilorin Innovation Hub, in collaboration with the Kwara State government, to discover solutions to real-life problems that can transform governance and public sector operations with a focus on leveraging new technologies to bridge the existing gaps in governance.
According to him, the enactment of the Nigerian Startup Act (NSA), which was the outcome of the collaborative effort of the ecosystem and the Presidency, spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, under the leadership of the minister, Prof. Isa Pantami, is proof that Nigeria is on the right track to harnessing the potentials of the digital economy.
Abdullahi argued that the NSA remained committed to providing a legal and institutional framework for the development of startups, an enabling environment for the establishment and operation of startups, the development and growth of tech-related talents and positioning Nigeria’s startup ecosystem as the leading digital technology centre in Africa.
Also, he called on the Kwara State government and all other state governments across the country to key into the implementation of the NSA to provide opportunities and resources that will empower more indigenous tech innovators to churn out solutions for local problems. This, he reasoned, would provide a platform of support for young innovators to develop and commercialise their innovative ideas and be able to compete favourably in the global innovation space.
The NITDA boss also appreciated the Kwara State governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for facilitating the partnership between the Ilorin Innovation Hub and the state government by making the hackathon a reality towards unveiling innovative solutions by Nigerian youths and by serving as one of the sustainable pillars to position Nigeria as a leading entrepreneurial hub in Africa.
The DG further commended the organisers for the initiatives which focused on power and renewable energy, hardware (Internet of Things (IoT), drones, mobile devices), connectivity, web and mobile applications, as well as security and privacy.
“The hackathon will serve as a veritable platform for our talented youths to showcase their innovative ideas and solutions which the government is prepared to adopt for improved efficiency in public service delivery and increased productivity in government administration.
“It is heart warming to know that this hackathon is geared to support and promote indigenous talents to come up with relevant innovative solutions to our local problems, improve the way we do things and engender prosperity in our environment. So, this is a challenge for the participants to come up with clearly defined ideas and develop solutions that emphasise the five specific areas of the hackathon.”
He conceded that NITDA was proud to be associated with the laudable initiative which is part of efforts to drive the adoption of technology across the state and demonstration of the administration’s commitment to transforming Kwara State into an economically viable and self-sustainable one where digital skills, youth empowerment, innovation and technology thrive.
“Suffice it to say that your programmes are aligned with several initiatives and programmes of the Federal Government being implemented by NITDA through its special purpose vehicles – the Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) and the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) – to develop and grow Nigeria’s digital innovation ecosystem.”
Abdullahi further assured that NITDA remains committed to the partnership with the Kwara State government for the continued support and promotion of talented and exceptional indigenous innovators towards helping them grow and continue developing innovative solutions that will boost the economic fortune of the state and Nigeria’s digital economy sector generally.
Also, he charged the participants to impact their environment with innovative solutions that will change the narrative of national economic development for the better.
On his part, the managing director of the Ilorin Innovation Hub, Temi Kolawole stated that the programme was organised to address key issues in government and revolutionise the way government operates in Nigeria and how it can become more efficient through the adoption of technology and digital transformation.
He added that the contestants were grouped into 50 teams, each focusing on a specific area of government businesses and tackling identifiable problems, including letter and memo tracking systems, data capturing systems and medical record systems for hospitals.