Following the successful conclusion of the Innovative Forum organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) to draw a roadmap towards COVID-19 recovery in the ICT industry, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has expressed readiness to partner with the Association to further seek ways of igniting the industry to growth.
Speaking at the forum, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, noted that the opportunity presented by the Webinar event is an avenue to partner with NITRA so that the efforts, programmes and messages of the Agency will get to the grassroots. With the collaboration, he said, “we can transform Nigeria into a strong and Digital Economy in the Post pandemic era.”
Enumerating some of the programmes NITDA is engaged with, Mallam Abdullahi, who was represented by the Agency’s Director, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, noted that at the onset of the pandemic, NITDA swiftly initiated several policies and programs for the technology ecosystem and startups to be able to withstand the potential impact of the Pandemic. “We rolled out these initiatives in order to ensure that technology continues to enable innovation and entrepreneurship while addressing the challenges of society.”
He further noted that a Tech4COVID-19 Committee was constituted with the aim of identifying the challenges the Technology ecosystem is facing during the COVID-19 Pandemic and to propose measures to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
Members of the Committee were drawn from both the public and private sector and are key players in the Technology ecosystem who have made significant contributions to the Technology and Innovation ecosystem. The Committee’s recommendations include strategies to ensure the industry retains about 100,000 ICT Jobs as well as create additional 30,000 in Post COVID-19 Era through the initiative.
“We also organised a special challenge, the Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, where Nigerians were challenged to come up with innovation to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. Over 1,500 startups participated and three emerged winners, namely, Algorizmi, a patient management solution particularly for victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic; Smart Disinfection Chamber, smart tunnel which can be used for disinfection of persons entering any location and Myclinic.ng, an online platform that enables users to hold video consultations with qualified medical doctors from anywhere and at any time. We are partnering with relevant institutions towards actualizing these ideas.”
NITDA, the D-G assured, is also working on a special support scheme for Startups and Hubs, tagged the NITDA Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (NTIESS).
The scheme will accommodate sub-schemes in areas covering Incubation Programme; Technical Capacity Building; Internship Programme, and Hub Up-scaling.
Mallam Abdullahi noted that Nigeria has over 130 hubs and several hundreds of technology startups. “These have the capacity of driving innovation and entrepreneurship and stimulating the economy. The Academia, which has always been at the forefront of research and development, needs to expand its horizon to include innovation. We need more hubs in academia to nurture the creativity of our youths. Collaboratively, we in NITDA are can make Nigeria a nucleus of innovation“.
NITDA’s programmes also reach out to Agritech with the National Adopted Village for SMART Agriculture (NAVSA), an ecosystem-driven digital platform which engages farmers and focuses on using precision/smart farming techniques to ensure significant improvement in efficiency and productivity thereby increasing crop yield; increased profit margin and create more jobs.
These initiatives, the NITDA DG said, are collaborative efforts by the Agency and relevant stakeholders, aimed at addressing the disruption caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as preparing the country in the Post-COVID-19 Pandemic.