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FG Directs NITDA, NCC, Galaxy To Support Innovators

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… Commends Nigerian champions at WSIS

WSIS
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami (middle) flanked by World Summit on Information Society champions.

The Federal Government has directed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone Limited and Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to collaborate with the seven champions of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS) to ensure that their innovative solutions are of global benefits.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and chairman of WSIS 2022, Prof. Isa Pantami issued this directive during the awards presentation ceremony of WSIS Champions for 2020, 2021 and 2022 in Abuja.

“I want to use this opportunity, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, to direct NITDA, Galaxy Backbone and NCC to look at your solutions and identify where you need support so that the solution will not just remain as a startup; rather, we want to build the solution here and become the tech giant at least in the next few years. This is our ambition,” he said.

Pantami expressed the hope that after the three institutions of government have had sessions with the WSIS champions, they will review their performance and render support where necessary so that their solutions will be of global benefit.

He said the WSIS event, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland had technical sessions where youths around the world were challenged to submit their projects covering e-health, e-agriculture, e-education and other fields.

“The heads of the technical session presented their results to me in Geneva and I am glad to say that some of our young innovators emerged as the global winners and champions,” he said.

The winner of the WSIS 2022 Hackathon is Afrilingo by Franca Umasoye Igwe while the other six champions are the Association of Women in Technology in Nigeria by Martha Alade (2022), Initiative for Mothers with Cerebal Palsy Children in Nigeria by Rachael Inegbedion (2021), Top Up and Get Reward Limited by Samuel Babatunde (2021), Wizwish International Farm by Wisdom Ikpechukwu (2020), Chipsnbrain by Oluwaseyi Akinolu (2020) and Makerspace Project by Oreoluwa Lesi (2020).

Pantami explained that the winners and champions for 2020 and 2021 were also presented their awards during WSIS 2022 because there weren’t any formal sessions in the aforementioned years due to COVID-19.

“Furthermore, we are all aware that the Federal Government through the ministry and office of the Chief of Staff to the President worked on the Nigerian startup bill which has already been passed by both arms of the National Assembly. We believe that in the next few days Mr. President will look into it and it will become a law.”

He opined that when the startup bill is eventually passed into law, it will be among the major achievements of not only this administration but in the history of digital economy and ICT in Nigeria.

“In that bill, there are provisions for so many benefits for our young innovators and startups, like pioneer status, grants, incentives, loans etc. Also, when the new law is approved, it will establish a presidential council to be chaired by Mr. President, supported by the vice-president, with the minister in charge of the digital economy as vice-chair. Government, private sector and young innovators will come together [to] look into their challenges and Mr. President will give directives there and then for the sector to continue to be very successful,” Pantami added.

The CEO, Afrilingo, Franca Umasoye Igwe thanked the minister and government for the recognition.

Another WSIS champion, the chief executive officer, Women in Technology in Nigeria, Mrs. Martha Alade appreciated the minister’s effort at presenting the awards to them and not having them couriered. She said it showed how passionate Prof. Pantami is about start-ups and the ICT ecosystem generally.

WSIS is the largest ICT event where the development of the sector is put on the front burner. All the 193 United Nation countries are members.

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