Thursday, May 19, 2022

NITDA, Meta Partner To Achieve 95% Digital Literacy By 2030

…To tackle fake news

NITDA META
The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi (seventh from left) and the head of public policy, West Africa, Meta, Adaora Ikenze flanked by officials of both organisations when the latter paid a courtesy call on the agency in Abuja.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has entered into a partnership with an American multinational technology conglomerate, Meta, a collaboration that will help Nigeria in her quest to attain 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030.

This was the crux of deliberations when the social media company led a delegation on a courtesy call on the agency at its corporate headquarters in Abuja.

In his remarks, the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, pointed out the need for Nigeria to achieve her 2030 target, pointing out the need to tackle the menace of fake news which is one of the most pressing challenges in Nigeria’s digital space.

According to him, the collaborative effort between NITDA and Meta, is apt, given the continued circulation of fake news and misinformation on social media which poses a threat to the nation’s stability.

Abdullahi said although Meta (formerly Facebook) is a leading partner in this direction, it must make its efforts known to the public to checkmate the excesses of perpetrators further.

“How can we make it better, to make sure that the menace of fake news is reduced to the barest minimum. Many do not read their messages or verify their authenticity. Adopting a Simpler Verification Mechanism will reduce the spread of unsubstantiated news,” he advised.

On the benefit of bringing Metaverse’s investment to the African continent, Abdullahi described it as a huge development and called for the company to consider the option. “We know Metaverse is coming and is coming big, and you are investing in Europe; what are you doing for Africa?” he inquired.

Commenting further, the NITDA boss said things have changed and the digital world has transcended boundaries set by physical computers, network cables, humans that use the computers and so on, but noted that these spaces exist within the territories of nations and should be governed by laws of these nations. “What becomes an offence offline is equally an offence online,” he submitted.

On the benefits of Metaverse to Nigeria, Abdullahi said: “We need to look at the laws in our country; What can we do to make sure whatever you are doing is following the rules and carrying our people along in building the Metaverse the same way you are doing with the Europeans?”

On Nigeria’s journey to the realisation of Digital Literacy by 2030, the NITDA helmsman mentioned that the target remained sacrosanct, as it is critical to the Buhari administration. However, he appealed for collaborative support from Meta.

“We cannot do it alone. We have an ambitious target and we need partners like you to achieve that. It would help if you equally had people that will consume your services and they need to be digitally literate before they can access your services.”

While appreciating Meta’s support in broadband penetration, he added that there are other collaborative efforts between NITDA and Meta, especially in digital literacy, saying that an online massive open course platform is being developed to facilitate courses in Nigerian native languages and the agency needs Meta’s support to achieve this more effectively.

Earlier, the leader of the team and head of public policy, West Africa, Meta, Adaora Ikenze, who described the NITDA as “our principal regulator in Nigeria,” said: “We recognised the importance of this agency and, as the catalyst for the sector and economic development in Nigeria, we equally recognised the importance of the vital regulatory role you provide in this space.

“We are fortunate enough to be one of the more supportive platforms in the country. We understand the importance and value that our platforms and products bring to the country. By that, we would like to have a more open collaborative relationship with our regulators,” she explained.

Ikenze hailed Meta’s visit to the agency as the beginning of a more cooperative and collaborative relationship. noting that the sector and Nigeria are reflective points at the moment.

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