The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has entered into a strategic partnership with Baze University to promote innovation and entrepreneurship development in Nigeria.
Speaking at the first Baze University ‘Information Technology, Research and Innovation Week’ in Abuja, NITDA’s director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said the partnership is in the agency’s commitment to implementing the strategic road-map and action plan (SRAP) 2020-2023 which is one of the driving forces to place Nigeria as a key entrepreneurial country in Africa.
He stated that NITDA was investing a lot of effort and resources into ensuring that the bulk of graduates from universities and other tertiary institutions are focused on creating jobs rather than seeking jobs.
The NITDA boss, who was represented by the national director of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), Engr. Yau Garba, affirmed that the agency, being the IT regulator in the country and through the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), is working with startups as key contributors to developing an entrepreneur economy.
Abdullahi stated that major subsidiaries of NITDA that cater for entrepreneurial activities are the Office for IT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) and the Office for Nigerian Content (ONC) which merged to become the Office for Nigerian Digital and Innovation (ONDI).
“We also have the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, whose core mandate is to conduct research and development in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, drones, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. He added that other activities of the centre focus on capacity-building and partnerships, with relevant agencies and universities in areas of national interest that challenge the nation.
Referring to the topic of the session “Challenges and Opportunities of Entrepreneurship Startups”, Abdullahi mentioned that the agency deals with companies that have a global impact to solve challenges and create entrepreneur opportunities.
He explained that though the focus was not on profiting, ventures like risk capitalists and Angel Investors promote businesses that provide substantial jobs – such as Uber, Jumia, Flutterwave and Paystack – needs to be replicated as much as possible to ensure a digital economy.
Abdullahi said the agency has the support of some international organisations like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on new models for incubation and acceleration programmes.
“We have a project called ‘Hives’. The idea is to build centres within universities to support students and the lecturers’ learning and research development”.
The NITDA helmsman noted that the centre would be based on practical and not the usual courses on entrepreneurship, to ensure the promotion of true entrepreneurial activities right from the university towards industrialisation.
He further charged the students to look forward to being a force in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Nigeria must not be left behind. This is the reason we are looking forward to collaborating with Baze University in search of people who are willing to take risks and scale their ideas to provide jobs and create innovations that would make the world a better place,” he added.