The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has restated NITDA’s unwavering commitment to advancing Nigeria’s digital landscape, nurturing innovation and positioning the nation as a global hub for tech talent and entrepreneurship.
Abdullahi emphasised this commitment during a fireside chat session at the TechCabal’s Moonshot event held in Lagos State, which was moderated by Alex Onukwue, a reporter with Semafor.
In discussing his role and the agency’s vision to transform Nigeria’s digital future, Abdullahi highlighted NITDA’s strategic approaches. He explained that, with a vision for inclusive growth, NITDA is striving to unlock Nigeria’s immense potential in the digital age.
Established in 2001, NITDA initially aimed to bridge the digital divide in Nigeria when less than 500 Nigerians had access to computers, and only 0.05 per cent of the country’s GDP was attributed to information technology. Inuwa noted that NITDA’s interventions have significantly transformed the landscape, with over 50 per cent of the Nigerian population now having access to computers through their mobile phones.
In 2019, NITDA shifted its mandate to focus not only on digital adoption but also on leveraging technology for economic growth and development. The agency’s new strategy blueprint encompasses five strategic pillars: knowledge, policy, infrastructure, innovation, and trade.
Abdullahi emphasised the importance of building trust and collaboration between the government and the tech ecosystem. He believes that a government-ecosystem partnership can drive positive change.
When discussing the Nigeria Digital Innovation Fund, the director-general highlighted the importance of a smooth transition and stressed NITDA’s efforts to reconvene the council to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship.
Abdullahi also addressed the issue of talent emigration from Nigeria, proposing a vision to retain talent within the country. He believes that Nigeria can become a net exporter of tech talent by providing opportunities, training and access to global markets.
With the right policies and a supportive environment, Nigeria could retain its talented workforce while serving as a source of talent for the world. Nigeria’s competitive advantages, including a youthful population, advantageous time zones, and a growing tech ecosystem, position it as a prime destination for tech talent.
The discussion explored various topics, including the involvement of local governments in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Abdullahi explained NITDA’s model for partnering with training providers to reach a broader audience. The agency plans to launch a call for applications for training providers and connect participants with job opportunities. Additionally, NITDA is working on digitizing government services and developing digital public infrastructure to create more job opportunities within the digital ecosystem.
Moonshot by TechCabal is a flagship conference that brings together audacious thinkers and doers to brainstorm and find solutions to Africa’s most challenging problems. The event provides comprehensive coverage of technology, innovation, and startups across the continent.