The Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, has expressed confidence that the ICT sector will soon become the mainstay of the country’s economy as underscored by its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) in first quarter of this year.
A report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for the first quarter of 2020 revealed that the total GDP of the country was N16.74 trillion; a 14.27% decrease from the N19.53 trillion recorded in Q4 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ICT sector also took a hit but still contributed about N1.28 trillion.
The ICT industry significantly outpaced the contribution of other sectors in spite of the impact of the pandemic on all sectors including ICT.
Notably, the ICT sector contributed 14.07% while oil sector contributed 9.50% to signpost some appreciable results in Nigeria’s policy thrust for economic diversification.
“Despite the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic on all economies of the world, the country’s ICT grew by 14 per cent compared to growth of 13.12 per cent in the previous quarter as people relied more on digital platforms during the lockdown,” said Abdullahi while making a remark this week at the international webinar meeting organised by the Information Technology (Industry) Association Nigeria (ITAN) Kano and Abuja Chapters.
“NITDA, as the agency with the responsibility to oversee the IT sector, is at the forefront of creating initiatives and schemes to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s ICT sector, particularly the startup ecosystem,” he added.
Abdullahi who was represented by the Director of e-Government Development and Regulations, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, noted that NITDA, with its two special purpose vehicles: “the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) and the Office for Nigerian Content Development (ONC) are working hard at achieving their mandates of fostering the growth of technology Startup ecosystem and ensuring patronage of local content in ICT.”
According to him, some of the initiatives include “Work Permit for Technology Startups during lockdown; The Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge where three startups with the following solutions emerged winners: locally made ventilator, decontamination chamber and e-Health monitor Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (TIESS) which have the following schemes; Incubation Programme; Technical Capacity Building, Internship Programme, Hub Upscaling.”
These schemes are targeting various aspects of the ecosystems to achieve maximum positive effect on the ICT sector, said Abdullahi and revealed that the agency has another initiative in the pipeline: the Startup Workspace Voucher programme aimed at supporting young startups to overcome their financial challenges.
“We at NITDA believe that with strategic partnership and collaborations with stakeholders, we can build a new Nigeria with a robust digital economy,” said Abdullahi.
Participants at the event include, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, the Minister of the FCT, Malam Musa Bello who were both co–hosts of the event.
Other international participants and presenters at the webinar include Ahmad Hashim, CEO of Pen Test Digital Services, Titus Olowokere, based in Atlanta, Georgia, US; Dr Amado Espinosa, US-based; Professor Sou Mita Dutta of Cornell University, US; and Professor Abdullahi Adamu, Vice Chancellor of the National Open University, Abuja.