As key players within the African Tech Ecosystem engage with government policy decision-makers and regulators on the prospects of regulating for the future in order to provide solutions for smart governance, the Director-General of the Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, who presented a keynote address and participated in panel discussions at the Government and Tech (GAT) Summit 2022 in Lagos, said the government needs to work hand-in-hand with the group to co-create regulations that will directly address their lingering concerns.
The DG who expressed the belief that the GAT Summit is coming at a time when players in the tech ecosystem are struggling with the realities of the present regulatory framework and contemplating their alternatives, noted that NITDA’s participation underscores the importance the agency attaches to the prevailing regulatory structure and future possibilities.
“The regulation we are going to create is not one that you can get from textbooks of legal or political views because the generation before us did not have to deal with the kind of situations we are dealing with today”, he maintained.
Inuwa told the audience that blaming the government for negligence is not the right approach towards getting the needed attention as the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration, unlike any other, has demonstrated the political will to tend to the growing demands of the industry.
The Director-General went further to recall the redesignation of the Ministry from the Ministry of Communications to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, which he said was a move by President Buhari to engender exponential growth in the sector.
“We need to look at regulations from the eyes of the citizens; how will it change the way we live because technology has grown beyond what we knew it to be, as it now has enormous power to limit or improve on what we do? Moreso, we need to start applying political principles to technology and not only seeing it as a business tool”, Inuwa added.
Inuwa affirmed that the role of the government is to basically create an enabling environment through interventions in terms of laws, policies and others so that Nigerians, and indeed entrepreneurs can have a safer digital space to thrive.
The NITDA Boss, while making reference to the Startup Bill which was passed by the National Assembly, was confident that the bill will help solve myriads of challenges highlighted during the panel discussions.
“Remember we talked about Tech Union, so, under the Startup bill, there is a National Council for Technology and Innovation, which is going to be chaired by Mr President and all regulators, are going to be members and the tech ecosystem will be represented there”, Inuwa stressed.
On the issue of accessing grants from the government, Inuwa explained that labelling and registering should be taken seriously by entrepreneurs as the government and investors need to identify and know their brands before giving out grants or investing in the business.
The DG said, “sometimes you need government’s intervention when there is a problem either from the law enforcement agents or other quarters, and for a quick intervention, the government needs to know you and your works; So, this once again underpins the importance of labelling and Incentivization”.
Recalling that earlier in the year, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami had led a delegation to Lagos and met with the tech ecosystem in the same hall where discussions centred on combating challenges and how to effect the necessary changes to elicit the needed trajectory, Inuwa emphasized that most of the recommendations reached at the end of the meeting were taken to the Federal Executive Council and approvals were given to achieve three things:
- Work with the FRSC to get more incentives for the tech ecosystem.
- Come up with a bimodal procurement process so that government can patronize entrepreneurs, and
- Protection of ID and patterns of entrepreneurs
Inuwa assured attendees of the event that the government is not sitting in its oars but working tirelessly to encourage and support entrepreneurs and young innovators to succeed.
“I believe, with this kind of conversation, nothing will stop Nigeria from becoming a force to reckon with, when you talk about innovation in the world. The government is a listening government and is ready to work with you”, he asserted.
He however challenged them to also always try to reciprocate the readiness to be available when needed as exemplified by the Federal Government’s presence at their invitations.
“Few weeks ago, we issued a Code of Practice but many people in the ecosystem didn’t read or contribute to the document. We say we want to co-create, not to do so from our offices but how can we co-create when you don’t contribute ideas and share your thoughts accordingly? We still hope you will do so, in order for us to have an encompassing document of regulations that will effectively serve everyone in the value chain.”
Meanwhile, other high representatives of key regulators and innovators in the technology space added their voices to the call for more frictionless regulations that will work for the better good of Nigerians and Nigeria.
The maiden edition of the Government and Tech GAT Summit which was jointly organized by Technext and Ripples Nigeria, allowed the physical and virtual audience to brainstorm on several issues confronting the industry.