The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has said that his agency is working with other stakeholders to create an irreversible transformative change in the way people live and work in the country, especially with the widespread evolution and adoption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) globally, which ushers in the fusion of the physical, digital and biological works.
Abdullahi said this at the 7th College of Fellows Roundtable Symposium of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) held in Abuja.
Represented by the director, IT infrastructure solutions, Dr. Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Abdullahi noted that 4th Industrial Revolution has created opportunities for most existing engineers and people to stand out in their respective fields, to become drivers of innovation, create new inventions to press global challenges.
“In the past decade, as large projects require more companies and stakeholders to work together across time zones around the world, new ways of working are demanding more seamless connections and faster access to real-time information that usher in the next significant transformation which is the cloud.
“NITDA, as the nation’s apex IT regulatory body, believes that it will be difficult for Nigerians to catch up with its developmental pursuit without developing the engineering and technology professions.
“Our scientists, engineers and technologists are critical to solving our societal problems and challenges.
“The focus of engineering is the making of things and work efficiently and effectively by applying the theories and principles of science and mathematics to research and develop economic solutions to technical problems,” he maintained.
Abdullahi also observed the role of engineers as critical to the well-being of human existence, cognisance of their innovation and maintaining of products and system equipment, thereby making a country habitable for its citizens.
He also commended the resilience of engineers, architects and construction industries in the last 41 years in changing the narrative towards attaining the accelerated digitally transformed sector.
“It started with digitalisation, which is the transition from paper drawings and analogue processes to digital tools and, later, computer system designs.
“As digitalisation was ongoing, architects encountered increasingly complex design problems such as global growing population, urbanisation and climate change,” he noted.
Abdullahi admonished participants on the imperative of keying into the current realities of the digitalisation agenda, as the process needs holistic evaluation and approach by relevant actors, to make it more beneficial to the future.
“The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) has been strategically set towards transforming the country into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all and accomplishing the mission of building a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship will be used to create value and prosperity for all,” he added.
The NITDA boss enumerated eight pillars on which the policy/strategy is anchored: Developmental regulation, digital literacy and skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, digital services development and prevention, soft infrastructure, digital society and emerging technologies and indigenous content development and adoption.
“These pillars,” he added, “apply to the engineering sector and every other sector in Nigeria. Digital technology is at the heart of the engineering sectors, regulations and engineering literacy and skills should be driven by digital technology.”
On the challenges the engineering sector may face, Abdullahi identified the demand for new skills in place, for the 4th Industrial Revolution, as some jobs including engineering will disappear and new ones will emerge.
He urged engineers to constantly update themselves with new trends on big data, internet of things and artificial intelligence, as the future remains unpredictable, given that digitalisation has provided businesses and organisations with a better view of what the future could look like and the endless possibilities offered by technology.
The DG was one of several recipients of the NSE’s honorary awards conferred on selected individuals and corporate bodies for their contribution to the development of the highest engineering regulatory body in the country.