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Google introduces new West Africa Director, assures of improved collaboration with NITDA

Mr. Olumide Balogun, Google West Africa Director (l), and Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of NITDA, Presenting the Former with the Agency's Strategic RoadMap and Action Plan (SRAP) Document, in Abuja, FCT      Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency, assures the visiting Google team, led by Olumide Balogun, new West Africa Director, of creating a million digital jobs with a well-crafted operational strategy in line with the Nigerian President’s stated initiative in this regard

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Google West Africa has officially presented Mr. Olumide Balogun, the Big Tech’s new Director for the region to Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

ConsumerConnect reports the global technology giant promised to deepen the collaboration that exists between the two organisations.

NITDA Wednesday, August  16, 2023, stated that Balogun, who led other Google top Executives to the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters, in Abuja, disclosed that the familiarisation visit to the Nigerian Information Technology (IT) regulatory agency had become imperative as it would restate Google West Africa’s commitments to deepening the partnership.

On creating a million digital jobs in Nigeria

“I have been at Google for four years, recently now taking over the West Africa Director lead role.

“And our coming here today is to identify the critical steps that we need to take to jointly actualise the Nigerian President’s initiative to drive 1 million digital jobs because Google cannot thrive in isolation,” said Balogun.

The Google Director also revealed that the tech giant had been working on Africa Internet for over eight years.

He further noted that “in 2015, during our premier developer event, we announced that Google had shifted from being a mobile first company to an AI first company.

“So, we were quite amused with all the chat GPT conversations.”

Disclosing Google is currently working on a document that would detail the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Africa, which will be launched in University of Johannesburg, South Africa, September 2023, NITDA noted Balogun is inviting Inuwa to deliver a keynote address at the forthcoming event in the Southern African country.

The Director-General  of NITDA, in his remarks during Google team’s visit, maintained that he believes that they can create a million digital jobs, if they work together to craft a strategy on how to achieve the target in Nigeria.

How NITDA is positioning Nigeria for digital jobs creation, by Inuwa

According to Inuwa, NITDA is currently positioning Nigeria for accelerated job creation in a digital economy.

“We are looking at the Nigeria Startup Act, which identifies some initiatives such as the talent development that can enable job creation. Nigeria can position itself to bridge the gap because we have youthful population,” said he.

The Director-General of the agency as well noted that the Federal Government’s responsibility in the digital ecosystem is to intervene in terms of policies, regulations, and infrastructure where needed.

He stated the objectives of any regulation are to help create market, democratise access to services, protect consumers, enhance service delivery, and enable innovation.

Inuwa said: “Basically, Regulation can be rule based and non-rule based.

“Non-rule based is what we advocated for. To allow the ecosystem players to self-regulate themselves, put the standard in place, and we can help to ensure new entrance comply to that standard because what we are after is to have a responsible and ethical views of platforms around the world.”

According to him, NITDA is changing Nigerians’ mindset about the perspective on government approach to regulations and policies.

He affirmed that the agency is co-creating with the ecosystem in anything it does.

Nigeria could position itself to bridge the gap in digital transformation because it has a youthful population, noted Inuwa.

The NITDA Chief said: “In 2018, digitally transformed enterprise contributed 18.5% global GDP.

“It was projected to reach 53.3% this year, that is over 50% of the global GDP. The generative AI is going to add about 7 trillion US dollars.”

In regard to NITDA’s partnership with Google Developers Group, resulting in the training of 150,000 youths in Nigeria, Inuwa disclosed “presently, we have an initiative running here in Abuja at our National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), and we want to expand same programme to other states in collaboration with the GDG as well.

“We are looking at how we can build technology development zones in partnership with universities to promote smart manufacturing.”

He further stated:

“Similarly, we are also looking at how to establish the seed investment fund to all the startups to attract investment.

“Last year, over 626 billion was invested but only 3.5% came to Africa and if you look at our population, we can do more than that; these are some of the ideas we need the stakeholders like you to come work with us on.”

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