NITDA Drives Digital Transformation For Seamless Trade Integration In West Africa

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The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi.
The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), operating under the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, is spearheading initiatives to dismantle physical trade barriers and foster economic growth across borders using digital technology. 

The director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi delivered this vision during a goodwill message at the inaugural ‘Nigeria – Cote D’Ivoire Business Roundtable and Exhibition,’ held in Abuja on the margins of the 64th ECOWAS Summit.

The business roundtable and exhibition, a public-private sector partnership co-hosted by the Nigerian Association of Chambers, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), represented the organised private sector and the Federal Government of Nigeria coordinated the economic, trade and investment department of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This event aimed to enhance private sector engagement as a bridge between Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire, fostering a deeper economic collaboration. Nigeria hosted the maiden edition on December 9, 2023, while Cote D’Ivoire is set to host the second edition in January 2024 on the sidelines of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) competition.

Abdullahi, who was represented by the acting director, digital economy development department (DED), Engr. Salisu Kaka emphasised the pivotal role of technology in driving economic growth. He stated, “For Africa and Nigeria in particular to leapfrog and develop, our economy has to leverage technology”. 

Abdullahi highlighted the opportunities technology presents for economic growth, enabling businesses to advertise, sell and promote products, services, or ideas within their zones.

Encouraging micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the backbone of the economy, Abdullahi urged them to embrace technology as the key to increasing their contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). He tied this strategy to the pillars of the 5-pillar strategic agenda of the Minister of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani. These pillars include effective policy formulation, infrastructure development, and promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and capital as catalysts for transforming Nigeria’s digital economy.

In his welcome address, the director of the economic, trade and investment department at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Akinremi Bolaji emphasised the significance of the event in assessing Nigeria’s readiness and collaboration between inter-agencies and the public-private sector. The goal is to expand the presence of Nigeria’s private sector in Cote D’Ivoire and the broader West African sub-region.

Bolaji highlighted the genesis of the event, originating from a meeting between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador of Cote D’Ivoire, Kalilou Taore in November. This meeting aimed to address challenges in deepening economic relations between both countries, especially in the face of political successes but dwindling trade figures. The event saw the participation of key organisations, including the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), National Action Committee of AFCFTA and others.

NITDA’s efforts to leverage digital technology for trade integration align with broader initiatives to drive economic growth and strengthen regional collaborations. The emphasis on technology adoption by businesses, especially MSMEs, echoes the commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship for a digitally transformed Nigerian economy. The Nigeria – Cote D’Ivoire Business Roundtable and Exhibition stands as a testament to the determination to overcome trade challenges and enhance economic ties in West Africa.

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