As part of activities to commemorate hosting the 2022 edition of the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) and in recognition of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)’s excellent services at the annual tech show which just concluded Dubai, UAE, the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has honoured the agency with the prestigious “Most Valued Partnership Award”.
Receiving the award on behalf of the agency, the director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi registered NITDA’s appreciation to the organisers and the centre for the award.
The award presentation was preceded by a panel discussion where the director-general and his Ethiopian counterpart Selamyhun Adefris Haile deliberated on “What is the attraction of the startup ecosystem in Africa” and “What is the government’s Strategies?”
Abdullahi, who seized the opportunity to speak on ongoing efforts by the Federal Government in strengthening the tech ecosystem, said a lot of innovations are coming out of Africa where Nigeria owns the largest market.
According to him, there are about 15 major sectors where Nigerian startups play key roles and are solving some challenges with their indigenous solutions which have a global impact.
“Fintech tops the list because financial inclusion is critical to the economy and it is closely followed by e-health, edutech, logistics and mobility etc.
“In Nigeria, more than 36 per cent of the startups are in the fintech sub-sector which explains why fintech is thriving as they are creating hundreds and thousands of jobs,” Abdullahi noted.
The NITDA boss stressed the fact Nigeria has, as of early this year, five of the seven unicorns in Africa, adding that about three additional unicorns might be recorded anytime soon.
“That means [that] before the end of this year, we are hoping to have eight to nine unicorns in Nigeria. Some of them have a huge capital base; In fact, one of them has more than $3.5billion valuation, twice that of the biggest bank in the country,” Abdullahi affirmed.
He indicated that the government is trying to give a level-playing field to all start-ups by creating an enabling environment for them.
“As a government, we have a foundational policy to help the start-up – the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria – and my agency, NITDA, one of the agencies responsible for implementing the policy, crafted the strategy roadmap and action plan which has seven strategic pillars. All of these policies are geared towards creating a workable environment for our startups,” he explained.
The NITDA helmsman assured that the agency adopts a developmental regulation approach to co-creating with the tech ecosystem assured the audience that once the Startup Bill is assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, it will address the myriad of challenges plaguing the sector.
Abdullahi expressed optimism that Nigeria will be at the forefront of bridging the global talent gap.
“If Africa, Nigeria positions itself well. We can bridge that talent gap. The talent industry is projected to create about $8.5 trillion in revenue by 2030. So, any country that positions itself to bridge that gap will be among the top economies in the world,” he reasoned.