Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge was initiated to use indigenous technology to contain Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic and cushion the economic impact.
Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abudullahi, stated this during a virtual innovation challenge demo Day organized by the Agency on Thursday to crowdsource for novel ideas that can help the ecosystem contain coronavirus ravaging the world presently.
He said that Nigeria Covid-19 innovation challenge initiative was conceptualized, implemented and opened call for application under the lockdown.
Inuwa described the challenge as unprecedented because the HM (honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami) has created a sense of stability for the Agency to work virtually “while our world has been under lockdown”.
Reflecting on how year 202 had brought high hopes for the economy, the NITDA boss said, “2019 ended in a pretty solid shape. Our economy had stabilized, growth rate had increased from -1.62% in 2016 to 2.29% in 2019. Our budget cycle has changed to January to December.
“We celebrated 2020 with high hope and we were optimistic at the beginning of the year that it will be a great year and a great decade.
“Soon after the celebration things started falling apart. Coronavirus that started as an outbreak in the Wuhan City of China spreads to other parts of the world. And on 13th March, WHO declared the virus as pandemic.
“Today, we are confronted with a crisis like no other. A dual crisis, Health and economic crisis. What is going on is unprecedented that you and I have not seen in living memory.
“The virus is causing health crisis, and the lockdown needed to keep the virus in check is causing economic crisis. What was normal just few weeks ago such as going to school, attending religious congregation, and socializing with family and friends, is now a huge risk.
“This is not the first time humanity is tested with a crisis, of recent we have seen Tsunami and Global financial meltdown and we heard about great depression, black plague and Spanish flu.
“I believe we will overcome this crisis the same way humanity defeated the previous crises but the timing is not under our control. What is under our control is how we keep the virus under control and prepare for the post-pandemic.
“Therefore, this initiative, the Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge is aimed at identifying innovative ideas from our talented youth, incubate, prototype and develop the ideas into digital solutions that can help us contain the virus and prepare us for post covid era.
“We are prioritizing digital solution because that is the only thing working during this pandemic.
“And the pandemic is accelerating technology trends shaping the future of digital world and digital economy in general. Imagine being in this crisis without digital technology.
“Our life would have been miserable, therefore our recovery and exit strategy should be based on what is working now. As a nation we can have all the technologies and talent but to extract value we need clear objectives and mechanism.
“Our broader objective is fast recovery to normal and our mechanism is our National Digital Economy Strategy and plan. Which highlights initiatives for Digital Nigeria. The journey started on 28th November when president Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR unveiled the draft strategy.
“And now the pandemic is accelerating the journey. My Boss and My Mentor the HM of Communications and Digital Economy is championing the journey and he has been providing the leadership and NITDA is working on various initiatives to help realize the objective of digital economy.
“This programme is one of the initiatives aimed at using indigenous digital technology to contain the virus and cushion the economic impact,” he explained.
He said the objective is to mitigate the health and social impacts of COVID-19 in Nigeria using innovative technologies hoping that the challenge will deliver on the following:
- Showcase relevant innovative technologies developed by Nigerians towards COVID-19 and the future pandemics.
- Facilitate and enhance processes along the prevention-detection-treatment value chain of COVID-19.
- Cushion the financial and social impact of COVID-19 during and after the pandemic in Nigeria and possibly beyond.