The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has called on tech innovators in Nigeria to harness technology as a wellspring of inspiration in their pursuit of disrupting businesses, given that the three essential capabilities for achieving such feats are now readily available.
Abdullahi conveyed this imperative advice during his keynote speech at the 19th edition of the ICTEL Expo organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). The event’s theme, “Tech Disruption: Transforming Industries with Innovation,” aptly captures the spirit of technological transformation sweeping across industries.
Abdullahi highlighted the potent combination of ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity, and massive processing power as the key enablers for tech innovators to disrupt any domain they envision. Distinguishing between innovation and invention, he elucidated that while invention entails research and the creation of new things, innovation involves taking inventions and commercialising them to generate revenue. For start-ups, he emphasised the importance of pitching their products and ideas as solutions to real-world problems, urging them to see technology as a wellspring of inspiration to drive business disruption.
Drawing on the success story of Flutterwave, a fintech company with a capital base surpassing that of some commercial banks, Abdullahi pointed out that it achieved this feat by providing technological solutions that facilitate seamless business-to-business transactions. He underscored that the power of technology is not limited to developed Western countries; Nigeria, too, offers a fertile ground for start-ups to launch and grow their businesses using technology.
Encouraging young entrepreneurs to think big and focus on providing solutions to local problems, Abdullahi stressed that this mindset could lead to global impact. The distinction between ordinary small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and tech start-ups lies in the latter’s ability to leverage technology to expand their solutions on a global scale, without the constraints of a physical space.
Abdullahi highlighted the various government initiatives available to support start-ups in their endeavours, including the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) and the Strategic Roadmap Action Plan (SRAP), crafted by NITDA to foster technological innovation in Nigeria. Additionally, he urged the participants to prepare for the future of work, where Nigeria’s youthful population could fill the talent deficits witnessed in ageing Western populations. The country’s abundant talent needs harnessing, and the government is taking steps to bridge the skill gap and promote digital literacy through initiatives such as the Talent Hunt Strategy and the soon-to-be-signed Digital Literacy Framework.
The event saw the presence of distinguished guests, including the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Williams Allo; Managing director of Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, representatives from the National Communications Commission and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
The collective vision for technological disruption and innovation in Nigeria is one of great promise and potential, driven by the country’s vibrant youth population and its growing prowess in harnessing technology for transformative change.