A lot of people know the National information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as the clearinghouse for government’s IT initiatives. But NITDA’s mandate empowers it to do much more. As you will find on its official website: http://www.nitda.gov.ng/index.php/about-nitda/nitda-mandate, NITDA’s mandate is quite diverse and vast.
The Agency is generally charged with the responsibilities of fostering the development and growth of IT in Nigeria. NITDA does this by drawing up policy frameworks and implementing specific action-plans in line with its mandate.
In an effort towards ensuring that the IT policy’s implementation proceeds with maximum effectiveness, NITDA regulates, monitors, evaluates, and verifies progress on an ongoing basis under the supervision and coordination of the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology.
Its Director General (DG) has the chief responsibility of executing NITDA’s mandate. Its current DG is Mr. Peter Jack and has since set to work through a multi-stakeholders approach to actualize NITDA’s mandate particularly as they have to do with human capacity development, local software development and enhanced integration of IT into governance.
NITDA’s Mandate includes:
- To operate and implement the National IT policy and to give effect to provisions of the National information Technology Development Agency Act (NITDA Act) of 2007;
- To ensure that the entire citizenry is empowered with Information Technologies through the development of a critical mass of IT proficient and globally competitive manpower;
- To enter into strategic alliance with the private sector as well as international organizations for the actualization of the IT vision;
- To develop and regulate the Information Technology Sector in Nigeria;
- To ensure that Information Technology resources are readily available to promote efficient national development;
- To create IT awareness and ensure universal access in order to promote IT diffusion in all sectors of our national life;
- To ensure Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) governance, using the instrument of Information Technology;
- To eliminate waste and ensure that governance and business are done in the global standard of using IT for easier, faster and cheaper delivery of services;
- The transformation of the Nigerian economy from a natural resource-based economy to a knowledge-driven one;
- To encourage local production and manufacture of IT components in a competitive manner in order to generate foreign earnings and create jobs;
- To create the necessary enabling environment and facilitate private sector and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the IT sector in Nigeria;
- To render advisory services to the public sector on IT programs and projects;
- To propose relevant IT legislation for the development and regulation of the sector;
- To serve as a clearing house for all IT procurement and services in the public sector;
- To ensure that Information Technology resources are readily available to promote Nigerian development;
- To ensure that Nigeria would benefit maximally, and also contribute meaningfully, to the global solutions and to the challenges of the Information Age;
- To empower Nigerians to participate in software and IT system development;
- To improve access to public information for all citizens, bringing transparency to government processes;
- To establish and develop IT infrastructure and maximize its use nationwide;
- To stimulate the private sector to become the driving force for IT creativity and productivity and competitiveness;
- To encourage government and private sector joint venture collaboration in IT development;
- To enhance the national security and law enforcement;
- To develop human capital with emphasis on creating and supporting a knowledge-based economy;
- To take Internet governance and supervision of the management of the country code top-level domain (cctld.ng) on behalf of all Nigerians.
In the fulfillment of its mandate, NITDA has executed a number of activities, initiatives, and policy actions as it deems fitting for national development. Some of these include: The establishment of Rural Information Technology Centres (RITC) across the country designed to bring ready and affordable access to ICT facilities to rural communities. Virtually all local councils in the country’s six geo-political zones have been covered.
The RITCs are conceived to offer community-based platform for youth empowerment in such manner as to make the youth population in Nigeria’s rural areas access e-learning and acquire capacity training as any other citizen in urban centres. The RITCs spread opportunities to otherwise underserved population. This project fulfils one of the core mandates of NITDA and help in the penetration of Internet and propagation of IT skills.
As a policy drive, NITDA has encouraged local content and patronage of Nigerian made hardware (PCs, laptops etc) notably to encourage the growth of the local IT companies, creation of jobs for thousands of Nigerians and acquisition of technology skills in these home based IT companies. It has also initiated the process for the implementation of the National Software Policy as a first step to making locally made software to conform to global standards so as to be effectively positioned to enjoy patronage from within and outside the country.
Mr. Peter Jack, Director General of the NITDA, deems the software industry crucial to future competitiveness for economies across the globe. It is therefore imperative to encourage the growth of the local software industry to be part of the global industry.
The Agency is promoting local startups to get both the needed global exposures and strategic offshore partnership necessary to boost the market confidence and value of local IT output.
The NITDA was a major partner of the Gitex Technology Show in Dubai that held in October 2014. Nigeria was the event’s Country Partner and was able to leverage on it to present its local offerings for global scrutiny and interest. Gitex is the second biggest ICT show in the world and attracts over 154, 000 trade visitors in its 2014 edition.
In the same vein, the agency has instituted the NITDA scholarship scheme and other IT training schemes within the agency as part of its effort to generate the human capital needed to grow Nigeria’s IT industry. The agency had in the past trained about 6,100 unemployed graduates on IT essentials, as well as 600 graduates on IT skill acquisition. More than 15,000 people have also been trained on basic computer appreciation skills using the Mobile Internet Units in the various states and local government areas and schools in the country. The 2014/2015 scholarship scheme held last year and covered doctorate scholarships for all of the nation’s six geo-political zones, as well as master’s scholarships for all the zones.
Generally NITDA has embarked on various projects accessible via its website (http://www.nitda.gov.ng/index.php/projects/past-projects). They include but not limited to:
- Human Capacity Development Project
- The Public Service Network (PSNet) Project
- Monitoring of the implementation of the Enterprise Software Agreement with Microsoft Corporation
- Information Technology Centre of Excellence Programme
- Computerization of Federal Government Schools
- Language Dictionary (Software Development)
- An Apparatus Monitoring Vital Organ Functions (Software Development)
- Software Content for e-Government Services
- Capacity building on Open Source Software
- Workflow Messaging Software
- An Apparatus for Monitoring Vital Organ Function
- Deployment of Messaging & Communication Software for r-Government Services
- Supply & installation of PSNet equipment
- Baseline Study
- IT Policy Review and Update
- Outsourcing Portals
- Standards Framework of Nigeria for Information Technology
- National Information Technology Audit