The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has said Nigerian youths can boost the nation’s economy through digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
Speaking during the south-south Hackathon challenge for young and innovative minds from the south-south geopolitical region held at the Senate Chambers of the University of Calabar, he pointed out that driving digital innovation and entrepreneurship by challenging Nigeria’s youth to create and develop solutions from inception to commercialisation will, no doubt, boost the country’s economy.
Abdullahi said the challenge, themed: “Innovation-driven Ideas for addressing local challenges in Health, Government, Transportation, Financial Services and Smart city in Nigeria for Social and Economic Development” has been thrown to the youths from the south-south geopolitical region to be spirited in utilising their God-given talents through digital innovations to become entrepreneurs and job-creators.
The DG asserted that digital innovation and entrepreneurship would help fast-track the recovery of other traditional economic sectors by supporting the provision and adoption of indigenous and tailor-made solutions for nationwide implementation of the policy through automation, intelligent processes and ICT solutions.
He further revealed that the 2022 edition of the NITDA Hackathon aims to find solutions towards building a digital Nigeria, adding that talented Nigerians are challenged to come up with clearly defined ideas and prototypes of solutions around agriculture, logistics and security for the swift growth and development of the country.
“The African continent is full of problems waiting to be solved. This presents the next biggest market worldwide. Nigeria, in particular, has a rapidly growing youthful population and taking advantage of the market will lead to the creation of jobs, solutions and revenue flow for the country,” he added.
Represented by the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Dr. Salihu Abdulkareem, Abdullahi maintained that collective responsibility is needed to achieve the positive impacts, for which the nation yearns. He encouraged the young innovators not to relent in their efforts towards tackling the problems bedevilling the country, saying that such solutions will go a long way in addressing development issues.
The NITDA boss urged the teeming youths from the region to always showcase their talents which will serve as channels for solutions to some of the problems that require immediate panacea.
He revealed that the programme also provides an avenue for young Nigerians to contribute their quota to solution-finding and opportunities for creating jobs both directly and indirectly, keying into the digital economy policy that will facilitate the swift growth and development of the country.
Earlier in her earlier remarks, the vice chancellor, University of Calabar, Prof. Florence Banji Obi, represented by Prof. Idongesit Akpabio, chairman, Committee of Deans, the University of Calabar, appreciated NITDA for choosing the university for the programme. She commended the initiatives and the manner of their implementation across the country for the growth of the nation.
“Programmes like this are needed to keep the young people busy solving the problems faced by the country; more so that such programmes give our teeming youths the avenue to showcase their talents which will help solve those challenges,” she added.
Obi encouraged participants not to stop at solution-finding after the programme but to further actualise what they have started, which she believes will bring about solutions to the problems facing the nation.
Winners from the pitching contest received cash prizes, ranging from N1.5million for the overall winners, N1 million for the first runner-ups and N500,000 to the second runner-up as the three-day event came to a close with fanfare and beautiful memories.