The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has forged a partnership with LEAP Africa – a non-profit organisation dedicated to leadership development – to tap into the potential of young Nigerians in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship, equipping them with the necessary skills to seize emerging opportunities in the thriving tech industry.
During a visit by a team from LEAP Africa, led by its executive director, Kehinde Ayeni, to NITDA’s corporate headquarters in Abuja, the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi expressed concern over the increasing migration of Nigerian youths to other countries in search of a better life.
This migration, he noted, is depleting the nation’s pool of talented individuals. Abdullahi stressed the urgency for the Nigerian government to create enabling opportunities through developmental guidelines, mentorship programmes, social infrastructure and funding to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
Abdullahi emphasised the need to harness the talents of Nigerian youth for their own benefit as well as the benefit of the country. He highlighted Nigeria’s global competitive advantage due to its large population of young people. Recognising that technology is a major driver of the global economy, Abdullahi underscored the importance of providing substantial support to innovators in order to cultivate a flourishing and innovative ecosystem within the country.
Regarding potential areas of collaboration with LEAP Africa, the NITDA director-general mentioned the Nigeria Startup Act, recently enacted into law, as an instrument that both organisations can leverage to unlock and ignite activities in the innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“We believe in collaboration because we cannot succeed in isolation,” Abdullahi stated. “So, we need to work together as an ecosystem to achieve that.”
He further revealed that the implementation committee for the Nigeria Startup Act has been divided into sub-committees to identify thematic areas for catalyzing the process. Ecosystem development, capacity building, funding, tax and fiscal incentives were among the thematic areas identified. He assured that the Federal Government is committed to providing infrastructural support, implementing extensive capacity-building programmes, offering adequate funding and influencing policies to empower the ecosystem.
Additionally, Abdullahi highlighted the National Outsourcing Strategy and the National Digital Talent Strategy as other initiatives developed by NITDA to enhance the skills of participants in the innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, making them globally marketable. He expressed plans to establish innovation hub clusters across the country to develop the capacities of talented Nigerian youths and enable their marketability on a global scale.
“We want to focus on services that are digitally driven and provide the talent to build those services. You can live in Nigeria, then connect to the global value chain and earn better. You don’t need to travel. That’s what will help us build the Nigeria we want,” Abdullahi explained.
In her remarks, Ayeni acknowledged LEAP Africa’s 20-year history of involvement in various projects aimed at capacity building for youths and bridging the digital divide in Nigeria. She expressed the organisation’s eagerness to partner with NITDA in leveraging information technology to address the challenges faced by the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country.
“As we reflect on our impact over the last 20 years, one of the areas where we have fallen short is exploring the potential of technology and the power of innovation in realising the Nigeria and Africa that we aspire to achieve,” Ayeni concluded.
The collaboration between NITDA and LEAP Africa holds immense promise for nurturing the talents of Nigerian youth, equipping them with the skills needed to succeed in the tech industry, and driving economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship.