FG committed to driving national strategy on digital economy, says NITDA’s boss at Anambra innovation meet

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The Nigerian government has reiterated its commitment to driving the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) as part of its larger framework for economic diversification.

Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi while delivering the welcome address at the Anambra Innovation Stakeholders Summit (AISS 2021) said the NDEPS embodies government’s commitment to leverage opportunities in the global digital economy to transform every sector and national life.

Organised by Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency (ANSICTA), the theme of AISS 2021 is “Incubating a Digital Revolution”,

Abdullahi noted that Nigeria has had its share of technological disruptions that have both enhanced the lives of Nigerians and as well caused some frictions between governments and the governed.

“Researchers have maintained that technology innovation creates both winners and losers. The likes of Bolt are disrupting the existing taxi and car hire services space and creating new market in the transportation industry. Similarly, Jumia, Konga and their likes are using technology to disrupt retail markets, while the likes of hotels.ng and Wakanow are not left out in the innovative transformation of the hospitality and aviation sub-sectors,” said Abdullahi who was represented by the Director, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Dr Usman Abdullahi Gambo.

In attendance at the event were the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke, Head of the ANSICTA, Hon. Theo Manafa, professionals in ICT, innovation hubs, academia, corporate organizations, technology enthusiasts, business and stakeholders in the commercial community.

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“The Federal Government, in 2019, launched the NDEPS as a sustainable roadmap to accelerate the development of digital economy in Nigeria. The policy is premised on 8 pillars, namely: Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy & Skills; Solid Infrastructure; Service Infrastructure; Digital Services Development & Promotion; Soft Infrastructure; Digital Society & Emerging Technology; and Indigenous Content Promotion & Adoption,” Abdullahi told the audience.

Adding that these pillars are designed to catalyse the deliberate development of the digital ecosystem in Nigeria and to deepen the quality of indigenous innovation to solve problems in Nigeria and analogous markets worldwide.

His words: “the policy has produced focused plans and programs being implemented through various agencies of the Federal Government. These programs include incentives for local development of technology and innovation centers to accelerate growth of indigenous innovation and skills.

“We recently unveiled our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024, which is targeted at driving programs and initiatives to achieve the objectives of the NDEPS. It is anchored on 7 pillars namely; Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy and Skills; Digital Transformation; Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Cybersecurity; Emerging Technologies; and Promotion of Indigenous Content.”

The NITDA boss also said that the 4th pillar on Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship has a particular focus on implementing programs and initiatives that will strengthen the digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, as well as enable Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs) and Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) to thrive.

Part of his submissions at the event reads:

“Some of the initiatives include; creation of access to public data for innovation and digital economy development, implementation of the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) Scheme to support Nigerian techpreneurs and ensure lower failure rates for startups, implementation of the MIT-REAP to strengthen the IDE ecosystem, a program for the adoption of indigenous innovation for a digital economy to incentivise and provide market access for innovative entrepreneurs amongst others. Over the years, NITDA has supported many start-ups through various programs, which include international exhibitions, hackathons, capacity building programs and acceleration support.”

“NITDA SRAP (2021-2024) is focused on the facilitation of a rapid transformation of the digital economy through elaborate stakeholder collaborations in the implementation of the NDEPS. Therefore, we are open to extensive stakeholder collaborations for the actualisation of the aspirations of SRAP and by extension the NDEPS.

“The financial services industry, our burgeoning Fintech companies such as Flutterwave and Paystack are making waves in Nigeria and beyond. All these are pointers to the vast opportunities that can be harnessed by startups to incubate a technological revolution within Nigeria and beyond”, he said.

“Startups play a significant role in economic growth by spurring innovation, injecting competition as well as job creation. Additionally, the size of our population offers innovative startups an opportunity of access to a big market by developing solutions tailored at solving identified challenges/needs.

“Nigeria’s burgeoning digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem has attracted significant investments over the years. While we have local and foreign investors, the opportunity still exists for more private sector involvement. According to the Partech Africa 2020 Annual VC Report, venture capital flows into Nigeria moved from about $100m in 2016 to almost a billion dollars in 2019 and more is expected as we continue to create the enabling environment for startups to thrive.”

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