The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi has reiterated the agency’s commitment to giving the ecosystem the needed support to boost the sector’s contribution to the economy and strengthen the value chain.
He pledged during a dinner meeting with some key stakeholders of Lagos Ecosystem, including representatives from Microsoft, MasterCard, Norebase, among others.
Abdullahi sued for trust and strengthening of the value chain as the best way to accelerate growth and support startups in the country. “There is a lot of distrust within the government and the ecosystem; so much that the only way to engender trust between both entities is to have this conversation.”
The director-general assured the group of his unrelenting support to the ecosystem which he maintained would be his return base upon retirement from government service and emphasised the need for collaborations across the board to achieve a faster and more sustainable digital economy.
“We cannot succeed in isolation; we need each other to succeed. Innovation is not distributed evenly across the world. Innovation and digital economy are about humans.
“A company is as good as its next product and its products are as good as the person or people who make them. This underscores the relevance of talents. If you don’t have the requisite skills and talents, then it is no deal,” he added.
The DG further shared his thoughts on different issues bordering on investments, partnerships, commercialisation of innovations, enabling policies and acquisition of relevant skills as well as training.
“At NITDA, we are re-enacting our act and laws to make it more robust so that we protect the ecosystem,” Abdullahi stated.
The NITDA boss listened to opinions and feedback from the audience on how to get the ecosystem to perform much better.
“The sector we are in is dynamic and we must move with its pace, so we don’t play catch-up or get left far behind. We must disrupt the way we do things and bring to bear professionalism, innovations that will solve indigenous problems but have a global impact,” the DG urged.
While taking turns to share their ideas and challenges, some of the representatives touched on diverse areas of concern and specialisations, including soliciting government support in the development of hardware space, funding, talents, procurements, local content enforcement, mitigating gateways, policy timings and changes, data protection and management, digital skills’ framework, standardisation and others.
Reacting to their comments and questions, the director-general extensively explained the efforts of NITDA under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and, by extension, the Federal Government in addressing most of the issues deliberated.
About the Start-up Bill recently passed by the National Assembly, the DG quickly reminded them that most of the concerns raised would soon be rested, thanks to the bill.
He assured the startups of a speedy and effective implementation of the bill to deal with the bottlenecks experienced and, in the process, fast-track the anticipated growth of the ecosystem.
While seeking their contribution to the document, Abdullahi highlighted the Code of Practice for interactive platforms as another document expected to engender appropriate monitoring to enforce compliance with established regulations guiding the sector.
“We need to decide what the right regulations [will be] so that every startup and industry player would have a Code of Practice that works for everyone and is adhered to the latter. Also, I think we need to form a union for the Startup Ecosystem,” he added.
The engagement with the Lagos ecosystem ended with a resolve by all parties to forge ahead against all odds but not just as an ecosystem but as a more united and prepared for future tasks.
The meeting was part of NITDA’s stride towards making Nigeria a talent hub for Africa and, possibly, the digital world, especially as several reports indicate a global talent shortage.