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ICTEL Expo: NITDA urges startups to deploy innovative, disruptive technology solutions

Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General of NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, charges Nigerian startups to engage in and deploy innovative and disruptive technologies in solving modern local and global challenges

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has urged Nigerian startups to engage in and deploy disruptive technologies in solving local and global problems.

Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General of NITDA, stated this at the 19th Edition of ICTEL Expo in Lagos.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) organised the technology expo with the theme, “Tech Disruption: Transforming Industries with Innovation”.

The event was also attended by Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Williams Allo; Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, among other dignitaries.

Mrs. Hadiza Umar, Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations of the agency, in a statement issued Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Abuja, FCT, noted Inuwa challenged the startups to think big while trying to provide solutions because their mindset of solving problems could be expanded to solve global issues.

In his presentation, the NITDA Director-General stated: “That is the difference between just normal Small and Medium Enterprises and you.

“We call you startups because you use the power of technology to build your business and become Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs).

“This implies that you start small, thinking of how you can solve a local problem, but with the mindset of taking it to the global stage.”

The NITDA Chief also restated it is only technology and a disruptive one that can help them to achieve such a feat in the technology innovation ecosystem.

The statement noted Inuwa explained the combination of existing data, unlimited connectivity and the massive processing power can give technology innovators the leverage to disrupt anything they want to achieve.

According to him, the startups should be innovative because ideas from innovation can be commercialised unlike inventions that focus more on research and have limitations on commercialisation.

“You spend money for research, you spend money to come up with new things while innovation makes money, hence innovation is invention and commercialisation.

“As start-ups, you need to be able to pitch your product for a new company, for people to use it to solve problems.

“You need to come and disrupt, use technology as a source of inspiration to disrupt businesses,” he reiterated.

FinTechs and Flutterwave example

Citing the success story of Flutterwave, a Nigerian Financial Technology (FinTech) firm with a bigger capital base than some commercial banks as of now, the NITDA Director-General maintained that the  company identified a big gap and decided to fill it by using technological solutions that connect business-to-business (B2B) transactions.

He further urged tech startups to focus more on providing solutions, saying with solutions, money can be generated.

Inuwa said: “Don’t follow the money, follow the solutions. The money will follow you; so, look at what kind of problem you want to solve.”

The Director-General stated that the startups could leverage the several initiatives of the government to attain greater heights in their exploits.

How Nigeria supports tech innovation development

He also recalled how the Nigerian Government formulated the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), and NITDA also crafted its Strategic Roadmap Action Plan (SRAP) with seven strategic pillars in a bid to spur technological innovation development in the West African country.

He urged the participants to get ready for the future of work as there is going to be talent deficits because of the aging population the Western world is witnessing.

Nigeria can fill this gap because of the abundant talent and youthful population the country is blessed with and ensuring on how to harness the talent.

Inuwa said the Federal Government through NITDA is currently embarking on several initiatives to bridge the skill gap in the country.

The Federal Government, he disclosed, has conducted a skill gap analysis to determine the kind of competencies required to build the country.

“We are also working on the Digital Literacy Framework which will soon be signed as Talent Hunt Strategy,” he stated.

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