The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has taken proactive steps to foster a robust startup ecosystem in Nigeria by engaging with international organisations and global tech giants. The agency aims to harness resources from these tech giants to sustain the country’s digital economy and create a million tech jobs, as mandated by the President Bola Tinubu administration.
The director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi emphasised the importance of collaboration in building a vibrant tech ecosystem worldwide. He highlighted Africa’s potential, especially its youthful population, as a significant source of innovation and talent in the digital economy. Abdullahi revealed that big tech companies are setting up engineering departments in Nigeria and Africa to tap into the abundant talent pool.
During a meeting with a delegation from the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), led by executive vice president Trixie Lohmirman, Abdullahi expressed his appreciation for the yearly Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) held in Dubai. He urged the DWTC to consider hosting GITEX Africa in Nigeria, similar to what was done in Marrakech, Morocco, in 2023.
Nigeria plans to organise two major tech conferences in the coming year – the annual Digital Nigeria Conference in October and the Global Tech Africa in November – in partnership with the USA consulate general. Abdullahi invited the DWTC to become core partners and sponsors for these events. He welcomed their support, noting that Business Sweden, the German government and other European countries were already on board for the summit.
The DG expressed NITDA’s enthusiasm to learn from the DWTC’s experience in organising GITEX, with the aim of developing a similar conference in Africa. He emphasised that the conference in Nigeria would be a platform for all of Africa, not just Nigerians.
In response, Lohmirman thanked NITDA for their continuous support towards GITEX in Dubai, which has contributed to the conference’s remarkable success. She expressed their willingness to support Nigeria, which she believes has the largest market for startups. The DWTC sought further collaboration with NITDA to provide funding access for startups in Nigeria and increase opportunities for exportation and foreign direct investments.
During a meeting with startups at the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), Lohmirman praised Nigeria for having the “secret army” that will dominate the global tech ecosystem. She commended the young entrepreneurs she met and proposed a startup exchange programme between Nigeria and other countries, including the UAE.
The meeting offered startups an opportunity to interact with the highest body managing GITEX, providing a chance to leverage the world’s largest tech expo. The DWTC also sought more collaboration and partnership, particularly in the area of AI, with the goal of making Nigeria the AI Centre of Africa.