As part of Federal Government’s commitment to actualise a digitally literate citizenry and facilitate a stable digital economy, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has flagged off the training of 6624 Nigerians through its digital state initiative.
In his address during the virtual opening of the training with the theme – ‘Literacy for a Digital Nigeria’ in commemoration of International Literacy Day, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, said the programme was aimed at equipping Nigerian youths with the necessary digital literacy skills that could facilitate Nigeria’s transition to a digital economy.
He quoted United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) definition of literacy in 2005 as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed materials associated with varying context, adding literacy involves a continuum of learning and enabling individuals achieve their goals.
“Digital literacy on the other hand refers to those things we need to read, learn and work in a society where communication and access to information is predominantly through digital technologies and innovations like the internet platforms, social media and mobile devices,” he said.
Represented by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Engr. Bitrus Nabasu, Pantami noted that the programme sought to invest in human capital development in preparation for the impact of digitisation and digitalisation of Nigeria.
He mentioned that the international literacy day which is September 8th of every year is to raise awareness and concern for literacy problems that exist within our local communities and globally.
The minister cited the proclamation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1966 which was to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human right.
Earlier in his remarks, the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said digital literacy is a key pillar in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), adding “we have an ambitious target for 95 per cent literacy in Nigeria by 2030”.
He stated that at NITDA, it was cascaded down to the agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021-2024) and also the draft National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy. This, according to him, will help in building human capacity of Nigerians.
“To succeed as a country in our journey to digital economy we need to invest hugely in building the digital capacity of our citizens,” he pointed out.
Abdullahi added that, building the capacity of the citizens was being taken from two angles; starting from basic, that every Nigerian should have the basic skills to use digital tools and benefit from services they offer. The other angle, he explained, is building competencies within the country so that digital services can be built digitally for nation’s economic benefits.
“We can address the African Free Trade Zone to expand our services to other African countries and globally. The reason why the NITDA is very focused on digital innovation and entrepreneurship that can help citizen build innovation driven enterprise (IDE),” he added.
In her goodwill message, the country director, Microsoft Nigeria, Mrs. Ola Williams, commended the ministry and NITDA for the initiative and assured the agency that her organisation was focused on enabling digital skilling.
Similarly, the country director, Oracle, Mr Segun Ajayi, said the organization was dedicated to making Nigeria the hub of digital economy and also empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through innovation.
Participants from across the country took turns to appreciate the ministry, and NITDA for giving them such great opportunity that would prepare them for the future.
The 11 states where the training will be taking place are Katsina, Ekiti, Oyo, Kaduna, Borno, Bauchi, Imo, Bayelsa, Niger, Nasarawa, and Abia respectively.