COVID-19 has spurred innovations and digital disruptions, says NITDA’s boss at IDC meet

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COVID-19 pandemic has helped to spur digital transformation across sectors and innovative use of disruptive technologies, including widening the more convenient window of online transactions.

According to the Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the internet economy has had no better impetus for growth than the pandemic era which has effectively helped to drive digital economy in many countries including Nigeria.

While making his presentation at the 8th edition of the annual International Data Corporation (IDC) West Africa CIO Summit 2021, Abdullahi said both the e-Conomy Africa 2020 report and the Economic Report on Africa 2020 revealed that by 2025, the value of internet economy in Africa will reach $180b, accounting for about 5.2% of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and by 2050 its projection is estimated to be $712b, about 8.5% of the Continent’s GDP.

While elaborating on the theme of the gathering; “Innovation Strategies Evolving on the demand of New Realities is Exciting,” he said: “innovation drives growth in the internet economy

Adding: “the process of taking ideas from inception to impact inspired three digital capabilities. Firstly is ubiquitous data, which is used to make decision and have information at your disposal anytime. Secondly is unlimited connectivity particularly Internet of Things (IoT) which eases connectivity and learning things. Lastly is massive computing processing power, which has no limit to what can be processed. These capabilities are the source of inspiration that ignites innovation and create demand in the digital era.”

The NITDA’s boss further stated that “the global advancement and digital technologies are making the world a better place. We are inspired to deliver rapid business innovations and new customer value prepositions. African start-ups coming up with unique business models, digital transformation platforms and services that creates incredible value with a significant impact on human lives and the economy which indicates that Africa will not miss the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) unlike the first, second and third industrial era where we lost out in creating and capturing values across the globe.”

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Buhari has instigated a Digital Nigeria

According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari laid the foundation for a Digital Nigeria by expanding the mandate of Ministry Communications to cover Digital Economy, led by a minister, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, who is focused on the vision of digitalizing the country.

“In 2019, the ministry formulated a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria. This serves as laid down foundation to create and capture value from innovation in the digital economy.

“The implementation of the strategies within two years, has significantly impacted the economy with the digital sector being the fastest growing sector which bailout the country out of COVID-19 induces session.

“The NDEPS primary implementer crafted the Strategic Roadmap and Action plan SRAP  2021-2024 with the objectives that include: articulating new strategies for the Nigerian ecosystem in accordance with the current aspirations of the government within the context of the new realities of today and the future demands

This was built on seven (7) strategic pillars namely: Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy and Digital skills, Digital Transformation, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cybersecurity, and Emerging Technologies, he identified.”

Part of the NDEPS is to develop and innovate solutions using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain and IoT among others to provide quality life, education, poverty eradication, health and wellbeing, Abdullahi told his audience

Quoting the CB Insights Research 2021, he said there are six unicorn companies in Africa and three of them are from Nigeria namely: Flutterwave, Interswitch and Jumia.

Abdullahi encouraged chief information officers from organizations and countries to focus more on initiating digital innovation strategies considering global digital trends and new realities.

His words: “Every organisation or country is unique and has its peculiarities but the digital strategies will provide a map for your journey. Our dream in Africa is to be digitally self reliant and become a digital hub for digital services exportation, a critical driver for digital transformation and a frontier for vibrant and highly competitive digital economy.

“Our youthful population, location and time zone are our competitive age, and we the CIOs are the drivers of our dreams in our respective organizations and countries, being proactive and responding to opportunities offered by technological innovations.”

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