As Nigeria marches towards attainment of its digital economy quest, the Federal Government has restated its commitment to deploy the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for economic growth and transformation.
The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, made this known while delivering his welcome address at the Anambra Innovation Stakeholders Summit (AISS 2021) with the theme – ‘Incubating a digital revolution’, organised by Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency (ANSICTA).
He pointed out that Nigeria had had its share of technological disruptions which had both enhanced the lives of Nigerians and as well caused some frictions between governments and the governed.
“Researchers have maintained that technology innovation creates both winners and losers. The likes of Bolt are disrupting the existing taxi and car hire services space and creating new market in the transportation industry. Similarly, Jumia, Konga and their likes are using technology to disrupt retail markets, while the likes of hotels.ng and Wakanow are not left out in the innovative transformation of the hospitality and aviation sub-sectors,” he said.
Represented by the agency’s director, IT infrastructure solutions, Dr Usman Gambo, Abdullahi added that government launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) in 2019 as a sustainable roadmap to accelerate the development of digital economy in the country, saying the policy was premised on eight pillars, namely developmental regulation; digital literacy and skills; solid infrastructure; service infrastructure; digital services development and promotion; soft infrastructure; digital society and emerging technology; and indigenous content promotion and adoption.
According to him, the pillars are designed to catalyse the deliberate development of the digital ecosystem in Nigeria and to deepen the quality of indigenous innovation to solve problems in Nigeria and analogous markets worldwide. He added the policy had produced focused plans and programs being implemented through various agencies of government which included incentives for local development of technology and innovation centers to accelerate growth of indigenous innovation and skills.
He further disclosed that NITDA had been at the fore in supporting the digital innovation ecosystem in the country.
“We recently unveiled our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024, which is targeted at driving programs and initiatives to achieve the objectives of the NDEPS. It is anchored on 7 pillars namely Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy and Skills; Digital Transformation; Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Cybersecurity; Emerging Technologies; and Promotion of Indigenous Content,” he said.
Abdullahi also said the 4th pillar on digital innovation and entrepreneurship had a particular focus on implementing programs and initiatives that would strengthen the digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem as well as enable innovation-driven enterprises (IDEs) and micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) to thrive.
“Some of the initiatives include creation of access to public data for innovation and digital economy development, implementation of the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) Scheme to support Nigerian techpreneurs and ensure lower failure rates for startups, implementation of the MIT-REAP to strengthen the IDE ecosystem, a program for the adoption of indigenous innovation for a digital economy to incentivise and provide market access for innovative entrepreneurs amongst others. Over the years, NITDA has supported many start-ups through various programs, which include international exhibitions, hackathons, capacity building programs and acceleration support.
“NITDA SRAP (2021-2024) is focused on the facilitation of a rapid transformation of the digital economy through elaborate stakeholder collaborations in the implementation of the NDEPS. Therefore, we are open to extensive stakeholder collaborations for the actualisation of the aspirations of SRAP and by extension the NDEPS.
“The financial services industry, our burgeoning Fintech companies such as Flutterwave and Paystack are making waves in Nigeria and beyond. All these are pointers to the vast opportunities that can be harnessed by startups to incubate a technological revolution within Nigeria and beyond,” he said.
Abdullahi mentioned that, “Startups play a significant role in economic growth by spurring innovation, injecting competition as well as job creation. Additionally, the size of our population offers innovative startups an opportunity of access to a big market by developing solutions tailored at solving identified challenges/needs.”
“Nigeria’s burgeoning digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem has attracted significant investments over the years. While we have local and foreign investors, the opportunity still exists for more private sector involvement. According to the Partech Africa 2020 Annual VC Report, venture capital flows into Nigeria moved from about $100m in 2016 to almost a billion dollars in 2019 and more is expected as we continue to create the enabling environment for startups to thrive,” he concluded.
Other dignitaries who attended the meeting included the deputy governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke; the head, ANSICTA, Hon. Theo Manafa, professionals in ICT, innovation hubs, academia, corporate organizations, technology enthusiasts, business and commercial community.