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NITDA harps on importance of digital innovation in Africa

Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of NITDA,  Represented by Mr. Yakubu Musa (left), National Coordinator ONDI, at the E-Tech Africa Summit 2023     Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency highlights the significance of digital innovation in providing better living standard for Africans, while improving the government’s openness, accountability, and efficiency by bringing it closer to consumers

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has reaffirmed the significance of digital innovation providing much better standard of living for Africa and Africans while improving the continent’s digital economy.

The Agency noted Inuwa stated this at the recent e-Tech Africa Summit in Abuja, FCT.

Represented at the event by Yakubu Musa, National Coordinator, Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), the Director-General of NITDA said that digital innovation is about using technology to “improve the way we do things, which has led to the increased efficiency in the provision of cutting-edge solutions, goods, and services at a relatively cost-effective price.”

According to him, digital innovation can improve the government’s openness, accountability, and efficiency by bringing it closer to the people.

He also said: “Today, digital skills are becoming ever more important in Africa as the continent is poised at the threshold of massive growth and acceleration in the world.”

Africa should be digitally connected and skilled: Inuwa

Referencing relevant global industry statistics to buttress his points, the Director-General of NITDA said currently, Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 3.1 trillion USD, with digital innovations contributing 200 Billion USD.

Citing Statista report, Inuwa also opined the population of Africa is expected to double by 2050, which presents endless opportunities for robust and inclusive growth that will harness its rich natural resources and abundant human potential to increase prosperity not only in Africa but also the world at large.

He further explained: “To take advantage of this abundant and crucial asset, Africa needs to be digitally connected and skilled.

“And to realise Africa’s digital potential, certain issues must be resolved.”

Inuwa equally noted: “One of the resources required to transform the African digital innovation ecosystem is digital talent. Lack of relevant skills can limit the opportunities for African countries, therefore, continuous programmes for learning digital literacy and skills should be prioritised to increase human capacity and achieve digital inclusion.”

The Director-General as well said that the need to increase Broadband access at a cheaper rate is imperative because the digital transformation depends on the Internet.

“Proper planning and incentives for young people engaging in digital innovation are necessary to encourage them to develop technologies that address our peculiar local problems and socioeconomic needs,” he stated.

While acknowledging that there are important hurdles to cross, Inuwa disclosed one of the most important hurdles to overcome is creating functional digital infrastructure and modernising it to fully benefit from the digital economy.

According to him, the Pitchfest competition at the summit would provide talented youths the opportunities to showcase their innovative ideas and solutions for enhanced productivity in different sectors as well as improve efficiency in the delivery of innovative products and services.

Inuwa, however, challenged the participants to pitch on defined ideas and develop solutions that would enhance the growth of Africa’s digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Inuwa stated that their programme well-aligned with several initiatives that are being implemented by NITDA through its Special Purpose Vehicles – Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation, ONDI, and the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, (NCAIR.)

He said: “NITDA created the ONDI to ensure the promotion, growth and protection of the Nigerian digital innovation ecosystem for the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.

“The Office is responsible for facilitating the growth of the Nigerian digital economy through the creation of Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs) that will promote job creation and the proliferation of market-creating innovations to create more prosperity for Nigeria.

“This is in furtherance of NITDA’s commitment to sustaining the promotion and growth of Indigenous Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, derived from our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021-2024) aimed at creating and sustaining an enabling framework for profitable adoption of home-grown innovation to accelerate the progress of the nation’s economy.”

NITDA hails organisers of e-Tech Africa, restates support to other organisations

While commending the effort of the organisers, Inuwa urged other relevant organisations across the country to initiate similar hackathons and competitions to provide opportunities and resources to empower more indigenous tech innovators to churn out solutions that can solve the country’s problems.

He also assured the participants that NITDA remains committed to partnering with e-Tech Africa and other like-minded organisations towards supporting and promoting talented and exceptional indigenous innovators to boost the economic fortune of Nigeria in particular and Africa’s digital economy in general.

In his remarks at the summit, Prince Ogbonna, Founder of Moolu Venture Capital, agreed with Inuwa on his submission, emphasising the need for more infrastructure and funding.

Ogbonna noted that their focus is on increasing assets, reducing costs, and improving quality in the Nigeria Digital Economy.

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