The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has noted that public-private partnerships (PPP) have a critical role to play in accelerating Nigeria’s digital economy.
He made this assertion while delivering a keynote address titled “Public, Private Partnerships: Drivers of Digital Innovation in Nigeria’’ at the formal launch of the initiative by the Digital Transformation Centre (DTC) of the German International Cooperation (GIZ) in Lagos.
Represented by the Lagos office head of the agency, Barr. Chioma Oke-Aguguo, Abdullahi commended the German International Cooperation (GIZ) for the laudable initiative, noting that the idea is aimed at engaging stakeholders in the Nigerian innovation ecosystem, helping them to understand the digital innovation hub concept and generating interest from prospective entrepreneurs and innovators.
He averred that it is only through initiatives like the one proposed that the nation’s startups can emerge from the pandemic and grow into globally competitive companies.
The director-general assured that, as the apex regulator of the information technology (IT) sector in Nigeria, NITDA will always appreciate and identify with every initiative aimed at boosting the growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Digital innovation hubs are the surest way to help lift Nigerians out of poverty and support the government in its economic diversification efforts, through the creation or more Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs)”, Abdullahi maintained.
The NITDA boss affirmed that, since 2020, the Nigerian government has invested heavily to provide the much-needed digital infrastructure, digital services and platforms, as well as digital literacy and skills for all citizens towards transforming the country into a world-class digital economy.
“This digital transformation has enabled rapid development across the country, positively impacting virtually all sectors of the economy, which has resulted in higher performance and efficiency, creation of new, digital jobs and indigenous IT innovations, and has boosted economic growth in the country with an unprecedented GDP contribution, by the ICT sector, of 18.4 per cent in the 2nd Quarter of 2022,” the DG recalled.
Abdullahi said as Nigeria continues her steady recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, it has become evident that the successes recorded from the rigorous implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) must be sustained, adding that, to achieve this, public-private partnerships (PPPs) will ultimately play a critical role in accelerating Nigeria’s digital economic transformation.
“PPPs are critical instruments for innovation in all sectors of the economy; they help governments become more inventive by creating a space outside the government structure that allows innovation to flourish.
“Also, they help to inject a broader set of skills and talents, as well as a more diligent and responsive work culture into the government machinery and to create a solid foundation for innovative thinking and creativity,” the DG explained.
“[According to] the World Bank, PPPs are a mechanism for the government to procure and implement public infrastructure and/or services using the resources and expertise of the private sector. Where governments face aging or a lack of infrastructure and require more efficient services, a partnership with the private sector can help foster new solutions and bring finance.
“PPPs combine the skills and resources of both the public and private sectors through sharing of risks and responsibilities. This enables governments to benefit from the expertise of the private sector and allows them to focus instead on policy, planning and regulation by delegating day-to-day operations,” he stressed.
Abdullahi made it known that almost every state has embraced the technological trend and provided its residents with facilities to advance their technical development, that many of such hubs are privately held while others are supported by the Nigerian government through various Federal agencies and programmes meant to develop the Nigerian tech sector.
“The engagement of PPPs in Nigeria will require an enabling environment for dedicated public and private sector champions that address the challenges of digital infrastructure development head-on.
“The Nigeria Public-Private Partnership Network (NPPPN) was established in 2011 through collaboration between the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Lagos State Public Private Partnership (LSPPP) office and the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) to create a platform for all states (sub-nationals), heads of PPP units nationwide under the chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
“The Public Private Partnership Units Consultative Forum (3PUCF) was also established in 2013 as a forum designed to provide a platform for heads of PPP units in Federal MDAs for knowledge and experience sharing; ensuring symmetry of effort towards institutionalising FGN PPP programme, provision of training and educational intervention among others and meets quarterly, under the chairmanship of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. ICRC also acts as the secretariat,” he said.
Abdullahi vowed that the conceptualisation, formulation and passage of the Nigeria Startups Bill (NSB) is a unique outcome of the private and public partnership comprising all the key stakeholders from the government and private sector players