In a bid to promote gender equity and diversity within Nigeria’s digital economy and technology ecosystem, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has joined forces with Womenovate to eliminate gender bias and advance gender diversity in technology and engineering.
Representing NITDA’s director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, the agency’s head of SERVICOM Unit, Mrs. Tarindu Ndoni and special adviser to the DG on strategy and innovation, Mrs. Iklima Musa expressed optimism about the collaboration during the International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). This annual international awareness campaign celebrates the accomplishments of women in engineering.
The director-general acknowledged the vital role women play in all aspects of life and recognised their invaluable contributions in shaping our world, driving progress, fostering inclusivity, and inspiring future generations. He stated, “The Women in Tech and Engineering Summit presents a perfect opportunity for women to come together and share their experiences, contributing to the growth and empowerment of women in ICT”.
Highlighting the transformative impact of the new digital age, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Abdullahi emphasised how technologies are reshaping our world. The integration of these technologies and the innovations derived from them have the potential to profoundly influence growth, economic well-being, and the survival of our socio-economic landscape. Abdullahi stated that Nigeria, being a hub for innovation, must harness these technologies to create wealth, generate employment, implement economic diversification and unlock more opportunities for economic prosperity.
He noted, “However, it is impossible to harness these technologies without equipping ourselves with the necessary skills, a challenge that Womenovate has taken upon itself.” He further explained, “The local and global tech industries are the fastest growing and most lucrative sectors of the economy. As such, NITDA has the responsibility to encourage and coordinate transformative digital innovation at a national level. The agency has taken the necessary steps to create an enabling environment that maximizes the potential of women, girls, and other underserved communities in Nigeria, promoting their ability to contribute to the economy.”
The director-general underscored that achieving gender equity in the digital economy and tech ecosystem is not only a matter of inclusion but also a prerequisite for sustainable development. He highlighted a report by the Council on Foreign Relations, stating that if women’s participation in digital economy sectors approaches parity, Nigeria could gain USD 229 billion in GDP growth by 2025. Abdullahi emphasised the significance of fully harnessing a larger share of the global digital economy, projected to be worth US$20.8 trillion by 2025 according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Abdullahi further asserted NITDA’s dedication to creating life-transforming opportunities for women through the implementation of the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP), an offspring of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS). He highlighted the collaboration with the World Bank, which has provided resources for over 560 women across Nigeria to promote their entrepreneurial and career pursuits both locally and remotely. These opportunities empower women to bring unique perspectives, experiences, and skills that focus on social issues and cater to the needs of underserved communities.
Furthermore, Abdullahi mentioned that a gender digital inclusion strategy is underway to bridge the gender digital divide and address concerns related to accessibility, digital literacy, and the promotion of safe online environments. This strategy aims to foster digital literacy for women and girls, encourage digital entrepreneurship and, ultimately, establish a culture of digital usage in women’s services throughout Nigeria.
Reiterating NITDA’s commitment to accelerating national progress towards a more digitally enabled economy, the director-general believes that the involvement of women plays a pivotal role in accelerating the development of Nigeria’s tech sector. He envisions these women as future technology leaders who will continue to transform the Nigerian tech ecosystem. Abdullahi encouraged the participants, awardees and everyone present to be open-minded and apply the knowledge gained in their ventures, as their creativity, innovative ideas and inventiveness are driving factors that will open new markets, expand investment opportunities, and boost income.
In her welcome address, the executive director of Womenovate LLC, Motunrayo Opayinka expressed delight in raising awareness and promoting the value of women in technology and engineering. She highlighted some expected outcomes of the program, including increased representation of women in technology and engineering leadership positions, enhanced employment prospects for female STEM graduates, and the formation of a supportive and collaborative community of female technology and engineering experts who can mentor, advise and support one another.