The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has identified innovation as a veritable tool for enhancing the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.
He made this assertion during his keynote address at the Ogun Digital Summit, themed “Digital technology: Key to sustainable future”, even as he encouraged the youths to see technology as the present and the future of today’s world.
“When you talk about innovation and technology, human talents constitute the major components to drive the two, as such, we need universities, institutions and corporate organisations to be part of the system cos they play a key role in producing the needed talents that can solve identified problems the society”, he noted.
Abdullahi enumerated efforts of the Federal Government in the areas of policy-making, creation of enabling environment, legislation, digital literacy, among others, which he stressed are all geared towards ensuring young innovators and entrepreneurs in the country thrive in their chosen fields.
“In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari redesignated the ministry to cover the digital economy. What that action entails is that the Federal Government is interested in the strength of your ingenuity and wants you to leverage Information Technology (IT) for economic prosperity. The action also puts Nigeria on the digital map of the global economy,” he affirmed.
The NITDA boss went further to remind the young minds that President Muhammadu Buhari also unveiled the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria, which is a foundation policy for the digital economy and digital innovation.
He pointed out that NITDA drafted the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to help them succeed.
Abdullahi analysed the seven pillars of the document where he mentioned that the essence of the digital literacy and skills ‘pillar’ is to ensure that 95 per cent of Nigerians are digitally inclined and can understand and enjoy digital services.
The director-general added that the bigger picture remained to build digital services in the country and not buy off-the-shelf services elsewhere. He challenged the youths to think globally while solving local problems.
“The government cannot give everyone seed funds or grants at the same time, which is why you need to think outside the box and have something an investor would be interested in. That way, you would have the needed funds to grow your products and services without the encumbrances of the sometimes-tiring government bureaucracies,” he reasoned.
The NITDA helmsman expressed the hope that some of the participants who were majorly youths of the state will be among the 1 million developers the agency plans to train in 18 months.
“Globally, there is a shortage of talents, so we are creating a mandate to develop a talent strategy because we have a competitive advantage as a country with our vast human and natural resources. Nigeria can seize the opportunity to fill that gap,” he added.
The DG further noted that innovation will help in creating a sustainable future for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Digital technology provides the source of inspiration for you to be great innovators and solve any problem you can think of,” Abdullahi said.
Also, he observed the world’s growing dependence on technologies to be able to do or avoid certain things, adding that the data created by the daily activities of humans which are being captured by digital devices can be used to innovate.
“Data is said to be the new oil, but, for me, it is more than oil because data is infinite. The more you use it, the more you create it. So, this is an opportunity for you to tap into it so that we can achieve the sustainable future we seek,” he maintained.
He informed the participants that the Start-up Bill which is now a law to be implemented by NITDA and other relevant agencies will address most – if not all – the bottlenecks experienced in the ecosystem.
The highpoint of the occasion was the promise by the director-general to provide digital centre for St. Peters Anglican Primary School, Isara, Remo north, Ogun State, in line with the agency’s mandate.