Nigeria, Sierra Leone Explore Effective Cross-Border Collaboration For Digital Innovation

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L-R: The director, corporate planning and strategy department, National Information Technology Development Agency, Dr Aristotle Onumo presenting a copy of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan booklet to the Minister of Communications, Technology, and Innovations of Sierra Leone, Ms. Salima Bah when the latter paid a courtesy call on the agency at its headquarters in Abuja.

Nigeria and Sierra Leone have entered into a strategic collaboration to actualise the “Forge Strategic Partnerships and Collaboration” pillar outlined in the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0 2024-2027).

This was confirmed by the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi during a meeting with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Communications, Technology and Innovations, Ms. Salima Bah.

Representing Abdullahi, the director of the corporate planning and strategy department at NITDA, Dr. Aristotle Onumo conveyed NITDA’s dedication to fostering innovation without inhibiting it. He emphasised the significance of co-creation, stakeholder engagements and innovation in driving NITDA’s regulatory agenda.

Abdullahi highlighted the necessity of collaboration among various stakeholders within and beyond the public sector. He elaborated on the establishment of the Digital Transformation Working Group within each ministry, aiming to ensure the relevance of policies, frameworks and guidelines across governmental agencies.

Elucidating NITDA’s approach to regulating information technology matters, the DG stressed the importance of stakeholder engagement and understanding their needs, problems and fears. He underscored the significance of developing laws and policies that effectively address these concerns.

Addressing the monitoring of service delivery, Inuwa recommended an annual submission of IT plans by government agencies to ensure alignment with the agency’s objectives. He highlighted the agency’s use of IT clearance as a swift mechanism for enforcing standards.

On her part, Bah underscored the importance of collaboration in propelling Africa forward in emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain. She stated the need for Africa to leverage these technologies for mutual benefit rather than being mere consumers.

Reflecting on the two-day engagement, Bah expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn from NITDA’s expertise in policy implementation, digital development, and enforcement of standards and guidelines, particularly in the area of technology clearance and compliance.

The minister noted that the meeting between NITDA and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Communications, Technology and Innovations signifies a pivotal step toward fostering cross-border collaboration and advancing digital innovation within Africa.

The Importance of Cross-Border Collaboration in Digital Innovation

In the ever-evolving landscape of information technology, fostering cross-border collaboration is becoming increasingly crucial. NITDA’s commitment to effective collaboration with Sierra Leone exemplifies the recognition of shared challenges and opportunities in the digital space. Such partnerships contribute to the advancement of emerging technologies and ensure that Africa plays a leading role rather than being a passive consumer.

NITDA’s emphasis on co-creation and stakeholder engagement reflects a progressive approach to regulation. Instead of inhibiting innovation, the agency seeks to work alongside stakeholders, understanding their needs and concerns. This collaborative model ensures that policies and frameworks are not only effective but also considerate of the diverse landscape in which they are implemented.

The establishment of Digital Transformation Working Groups within ministries is a practical step toward ensuring the alignment of policies across governmental agencies. This inter-ministerial collaboration aims to create a cohesive regulatory environment, reducing fragmentation and fostering a holistic approach to digital transformation.

NITDA’s Regulatory Approach and Recommendations

NITDA’s regulatory approach, as outlined by Abdullahi, emphasises the importance of staying attuned to the needs and challenges of stakeholders. By understanding these dynamics, NITDA can develop laws and policies that effectively address concerns, ensuring a regulatory framework that is not only robust but also adaptable to the evolving technological landscape.

The recommendation for government agencies to submit annual IT plans ensures a continuous alignment with NITDA’s objectives. This proactive measure is vital in the fast-paced world of technology, where agility and responsiveness are paramount. The use of IT clearance as a mechanism for enforcing standards further underscores NITDA’s commitment to maintaining a high bar for quality and compliance.

Sierra Leone’s Perspective, Future Prospects

Bah’s emphasis on collaboration as a driver for Africa’s advancement in AI and blockchain resonates with the broader vision of fostering innovation on the continent. By leveraging these technologies for mutual benefit, African nations can position themselves as contributors rather than passive consumers in the global tech landscape.

The expressed gratitude from Bah for the opportunity to learn from NITDA’s expertise highlights the importance of knowledge exchange in advancing digital development. This collaborative engagement is not merely a meeting between two entities but a step toward building a community of practice that can collectively address challenges and explore opportunities in the digital realm.

Pivotal Step Towards Digital Innovation

The meeting between NITDA and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Communications, Technology & Innovations marks a pivotal step toward fostering cross-border collaboration. As both entities share experiences, expertise and perspectives, they contribute to the larger narrative of advancing digital innovation within Africa. This collaborative effort sets the stage for future partnerships, emphasising the importance of collective action in navigating the dynamic landscape of information technology on the continent.

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