Saturday, September 25, 2021

NITDA @ 20: FG Launches Roadmap, Action Plan

The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi (4th from left), the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Engr. Festus Dauda, the chairman, NITDA governing board, Dr. Said Abubakar cutting NITDA’s 20 anniversary cake flanked by other guests in Abuja.

The Federal Government has unveiled new Strategic Roadmaps and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021 to 2024 for the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as part of the efforts to drive digital inclusion for a digital economy.

Speaking at the annual lecture with the theme ‘Celebrating growth and resilience’ as part of activities to unveil the plan as well as mark NITDA’s 20 years anniversary, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, said the new roadmap and action plan would help the agency to align with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).

The minister urged NITDA to focus more on IT project clearance, create awareness on the Nigerian data protection regulation and other key areas of IT sector.

“The journey so far on IT project clearance have been commendable but we need to improve more on surveillance so we can fight corruption by reducing the price of IT projects being executed by the federal public institutions.

“We also need to improve on Nigerian data protection regulation, this is an area we need to create more awareness. We also need to build the capacity of our citizens, particularly in unserved and underserved areas. Digital Nigeria is about accommodating all, NITDA have been training women, disabled people and we do hope that the FG will provide more support for the agency so that significant number of our population particularly in rural areas will have digital skills where necessary for digital Nigeria,” he said.

Earlier in his welcome address, the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said NITDA of the next decade was prepared to act as an institutional catalyst to actualise the long-held dream of every Nigerian to build a nation where peace, prosperity and justice would reign.

He pointed out that the foundation for the dream was laid by Buhari administration and championed by the minister, who has a laser-focused vision of digitalising Nigeria, adding the vision had been well articulated by the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS). 

“The NDEPS is an overarching policy vision that needs strategic action by all relevant stakeholders to become a reality. NITDA, no doubt, is pivotal to the implementation of the NDEPS. It is for this purpose that the agency has initiated a thorough strategy drafting process as introduced by my predecessor, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

“This process was carried out in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders by identifying gaps and opportunities in Nigeria’s digital economy aspiration. Critical government policies and documents such as the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship policy, National Broadband Action Plan, Cybersecurity Policy, amongst others, were consulted to have strategy coherence. This process has culminated in the NITDA Strategic Roadmap Plan and Action Plan (SRAP),” he added.

He underscored the objectives of the strategy as: To articulate a new strategy for NITDA in accordance with the current aspirations of the government, the realities of today and the demands of the future; to contribute its quota towards the implementation of NDEPS, especially within the framework of its mandate; and to implement programs that would facilitate the digital transformation of Nigeria.  

Presenting the anniversary lecture, a cybersecurity expert, Mr. Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, said the agency had recorded great achievements, increased ICT awareness, created jobs, contributed to internet penetration, empowered youths, improved IT to contribute to gross domestic product, among other strides.

The expert underscored the need for empowering and multiplying micro, small and medium enterprises that produce more jobs than any other segment of the economy, stressing continuity, principled flexibility with efficiency is key to its growth and resilience as well as relevance.

“There is no area of IT that is not important, but NITDA should focus on building, human capacity, making long-term investment at the primary level. NITDA should be aware that accredited people are the basis of startup economy and we must continually build self-sustaining ecosystems,” he added.

In his goodwill message, the president of Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, commended Pantami for providing leadership in Nigeria’s IT sector, describing him as a true professional.

“The only thing I know about the minister, Dr Pantami is that he’s a true IT professional. This is the first time in the history of Nigeria, an IT professional is piloting the affairs of this ministry,” he added.

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