The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has revealed plans to collaborate with e-commerce giant, Amazon to offer digital services to local operators in the country.
This was disclosed by the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi when he received the Amazon representative in Africa and the Middle East, Narrimane Benakcha, in the company of her team from Anderson Nigeria, where discussions centred around an open-door policy in developmental regulation and digital services for the benefit of local operators.
The familiarisation visit to the NITDA’s corporate headquarters, Abuja, provided an opportunity for the DG to expatiate on the mandate of the agency and its scope of operation in implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria. Also, he expressed the concerns of a group of fintech operators troubled by the enormous cost incurred in accessing hosting services from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and other related services.
“As a government, we have a Cloud-first strategy. We encourage even the government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to go to Cloud because it is easier, cheaper, faster and convenient to deploy your services without the stress of overhead and other costs,” he said.
Abdullahi proposed self-sufficiency in terms of digital infrastructure requirements in the country, stating that, “no government in this world would prefer to be dependent on other countries for digital services, because our life today is centred around digital services”.
He urged Amazon and other multinational organisations to have a common interest in Nigeria, adding that the market is appropriate and foretells that Nigeria will be the next frontier in digital services. He postulated that digital services would thrive in Nigeria because of her youthful population.
“Africa has the fastest-growing population and one of the youngest populations in the world, with the fastest-growing broadband penetration and other factors that can accelerate digital business,” he added.
Abdullahi, therefore, implored Amazon to consider investing in the data centre in Nigeria to support startups and other entrepreneurs, especially now that the government is creating an enabling environment and levelling the playing field for everyone in the industry.
Abdullahi appreciated the fact that Amazon now has offices in Nigeria but said the country would benefit more if Amazon could collaborate with the government in areas that would enhance and support startups and innovators. He referred to Google’s recent selection of 60 startups across Africa where Nigeria got 23 slots in its Google Black Founders Fund (BFF) to enable the upscale of their ongoing projects.
According to him, the public sector policy, which is the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), has an ambitious target of digitising all government services with 98 per cent of broadband coverage by 2030.
He noted that the Head of Civil Service is working with MDAs to implement the Electronic Management System (EMS) to ensure paperless documentation processes by 2030. All of these, he said, were already being implemented at NITDA.
The NITDA boss affirmed that the government, through NITDA, is ready to learn from Amazon’s experience in other jurisdictions, especially in policy and regulations.
“We are interested in building talents because it’s one of the major global challenges,” he noted.
He said NITDA is already working on the National Talent Strategy, training 1 million developers in the next 18 months and several digital capacity-building programmes.
In her response, Benakcha appreciated the open-door policy of NITDA and assured that her organisation is ready to operate in Nigeria.