The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has urged Amazon Web Services (AWS) to take advantage of the country’s pool of tech talents to co-create products and services.
Abdullahi, who led the team of Nigerian startups currently participating at Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) Supernova Pitch Competition to AWS office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, implored the company to leverage Nigeria’s youthful population and invest in the country’s digital economy.
The DG emphasised the need for tech big companies like AWS to leverage Nigeria’s existing policies and regulations and support the startups to create local products and services.
“Nigeria is a big market and we have one of the youngest populations in the world, and technology is about young people. You have all the opportunities to come and invest in Nigeria; we have the talent, which is one of our competitive edges. When it comes to technology and innovation, Nigeria can be the global superpower,” he said.
The NITDA boss noted that some big techs feel threatened by government policies while, in reality, most of the government regulations do not stop companies from dominating; rather, it creates an enabling environment for local players and startups to participate in an ever-expanding digital economy space.
“Our startups cannot compete with AWS as a service provider platform, but you can create a platform for them to build their products and services.
“Technology is a product business. The hitch of today can quickly become memories of tomorrow. Your company is as good as your next product and your next product is as good as the people who made it.
“Innovation is start-up business, big organisations focus more on protecting their niche, while startups are to disrupt; come up with new ideas, make things easier and democratise services. With this kind of platform, it is easier for someone to build his product and take it to market.
“I think it is an opportunity for you also to see how can you leverage a platform like ours to build and expand your products and services. If you carry out an assessment you will discover that it is easier for you to engage our startups than to build your human infrastructure,” he stressed.
Also, Abdullahi emphasised that no country will like to depend on another when it comes to providing digital solutions and services, every nation wants to be self-sufficient digitally. We, therefore, encourage big tech companies to come and invest locally, so that digital products and services can be built within the country.
“We know there are controls on the use of data concerning jurisdiction, litigation and other things. For instance, you can only litigate what happens within your jurisdiction,” he added.
While looking forward to more areas of partnership and collaboration, Abdullahi expressed optimism that Nigerian startups will benefit from AWS’ various programmes which are accessible to startups at every stage of their journey.
The NITDA boss’s engagement with AWS came hours after North Star Dubai announced that nine Nigerian startups have reached the semi-final of the Supernova Challenge Pitch Competition with up to $200,000 cash prizes for grabs for the winners of different categories.
The Nigerian startups who are competing with their counterparts from Asia, Africa and Europe are Identity Pass, 9JaCodeKids Academy, Floews, Medtech, Paddycover, Pricepally, LiveBic, Technyon Technologies and Wellness Health Technologies.
AWS startup advocate Mark Birch, who made the presentation on behalf of AWS, took the startups through a journey on how to power their innovation and build a successful company.