NITDA to support start-ups, others to boost digital economy

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has assured start-ups, established businesses and other members of the commerce community of its robust support towards achieving a digital economy.

The agency hopes to achieve this by working with the Committee of e-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH) and ultimately embracing the Public, Private Partnership (PPP) business model that will help achieve a digital Nigeria.

The Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, made the assurance when he received a team of CeBIH, led by the Chairman, Mr Adeyemi Atanda on a familiarisation visit to the Agency’s head office in Abuja at the weekend.

Abdullahi identified three things that drive the digital economy as broadband penetration, digital Identity, and the payment system. He explained that using digital devices to do financial transactions makes work and lifeless stressful, increases productivity and creates opportunities to maximize time and energy.

‘NITDA is rebranding, its mission, vision, and core values have been changed recently to meet the present dynamics of world best standards, the Agency’s core values are People first; we exist to serve you, Innovation; we are disrupting conventionalism, quoting former Microsoft COO Bob Herbold, “disrupt your business before someone else does” and Professionalism; we want to put global best practices to use, we are setting standards for other Ministry, Departments, and Agency’s (MDAs) to follow,’ he said.

‘Collaboration with CeBIH is critical, we cannot do it alone, our mandate is so huge, so we are glad to partner with you to deliver service to Nigerians,’ Abdullahi said.

He added that NITDA was currently in collaboration with Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Inc, Mass Challenge, other private entities and government bodies like NNPC, CBN, etc to ensure 95% digital literacy by 2030.

While commending the CeBIH on its resolve to partner with NITDA, Abdullahi urged the team to adopt some of NITDA’s operating models.

‘To be innovative one must look outside the box. We challenge startups to come up with ideas that can resolve existing problems, you cannot allow someone to experiment in your living environment. Financial inclusion is key; therefore, it is important that we work together. There are several programs that we can partner on as identified in NITDA’s Strategic RoadMap and Action Plan (SRAP), there are 63 initiatives there,’ he said.

Advising on areas that NITDA and CeBIH can partner, he suggested that an innovation challenge can be organized with the Nigerian Tech and Innovation Ecosystem. He also agreed that both organisations can collaborate on capacity building, cyber security and guaranteed that they would also be involved in the redraft of the 2007 NITDA Act bill.

‘Our regulations are developmental, and we cannot be innovative within the confines of regulation. Our understanding of regulation is to unlock opportunities for you and protect consumers to create the enabling environment,’ said the NITDA DG on the need for amendment of the 2007 NITDA Act bill.

According to the NITDA boss, five main stakeholders were going to be engaged towards amendment of the bill, the higher institutions, the corporate organizations, the government, Venture Capital or Angel Investor and the Entrepreneur.

He mentioned areas where NITDA is currently engaging in capacity building especially with the use of mass open online courses platform, where so far 57,000 Nigerians have been trained and additional 6,625 individuals in 11 states across the nation, are currently being trained on productivity tools, digital content creation and digital marketing.

He said the new cyber security policy assigns certain roles to NITDA, one of which is setting standards and encouraging domestic solutions to cyber security challenges. This he believes is another area for partnership.

On his part, the Chairman Committee eBusiness Industry Heads, Mr Adeyemi Atanda while appreciating NITDA’s innovative contributions to a digital economy had identified key areas for collaboration on STEM boot camp program as facilitators to help enrich the curriculum, capacity building, cyber security, and being on board the stakeholder’s forum on the redraft of the NITDA Act Bill.

He maintained that innovation is the bedrock for all the things done in the banking sector: ‘We want these innovations to have a direct impact on the Nigerian economy.’

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