Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has reiterated NITDA’s commitment to driving Nigeria’s digital future, fostering innovation, and positioning the country as a global hub for tech talent and entrepreneurship.
Inuwa made the reaffirmation during a fireside chat session, moderated by Alex Onukwue, a reporter with Semafor at the TechCabal’s Moonshot event which held in Lagos State.
While sharing insights into his role and the agency’s transformative vision for Nigeria’s digital landscape, Inuwa analysed the different strategic approaches adopted by the Agency, noting that, with a vision for inclusive growth, NITDA is working towards realising Nigeria’s vast potential in the digital age.
“NITDA, established in 2001 was initially aimed to bridge the digital divide in Nigeria, where less than 500 Nigerians had access to computers but in the early 2000s, only 0.05% of Nigeria’s GDP was attributed to information technology. However, NITDA’s interventions have significantly transformed the landscape, with over 50% of the Nigerian population now having access to computers through their mobile phones”, Inuwa said.
The NITDA Boss explained how NITDA’s mandate shifted in 2019, focusing not only on digital adoption but on leveraging technology for economic growth and development as he highlighted the agency’s new strategy blueprint to encompass five strategic pillars: knowledge, policy, infrastructure, innovation, and trade.
“One key focus has been building trust and collaboration between the government and the tech ecosystem, promoting engagement, and co-development of policies and laws”.
“This is important because if the government and the ecosystem are working together with each having their unique strength, when combined, can drive positive change”, the DG maintained.
When discussing the implementation of the Nigeria Digital Innovation Fund, the Director-General reechoed the importance of a smooth transition, stressing that despite some challenges, NITDA is working to reconvene the council and present the funding model to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship.
Another front which engaged the attention of the DG was the emigration of talents from Nigeria, where Inuwa shared a bold vision for retaining talent within the country.
According to Inuwa, “Nigeria can become a talent net exporter by providing opportunities, training, and access to global markets, adding that, with the right policies and supportive environment, Nigeria could retain its talented workforce while also being a source of talent for the world.
“The global demand for tech talents is enormous, and Nigeria has the potential to play a significant role in filling this talent gap, given the competitive advantages, such as a youthful population, advantageous time zones, and a growing tech ecosystem, making it a prime destination for tech talents”, the Director-General added.
The discussion which delved into multiple topics also brought to the fore, local governments’ involvement in the entire process of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship as Inuwa expatiated NITDA’s model for partnering with training providers to reach a broader audience.
“The agency plans to launch a call for applications for training providers and aims to connect participants with job opportunities. Additionally, NITDA is working on digitising government services and developing the digital public infrastructure to create more job opportunities within the digital ecosystem”, Inuwa noted.
Moonshot by TechCabal is a completely physical event brought together the most audacious thinkers and doers on the continent and beyond to brainstorm and collectively find solutions to Africa’s most challenging problems.