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Innovative Forum: NITDA Commends NITRA, Highlights COVID-19 Recovery Programmes

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By Kingsley i. Ilechukwu, Correspondent Lagos

Sequel to the successful conclusion of the Innovative Forum organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) that sought answers towards COVID-19 recovery in the ICT industry, the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency, sister agency to the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) 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 was an avenue to partner with NITRA so that the efforts, programmes and messages of the Agency would get to the grassroots. With the collaboration, Mallam Abdullahi said, “we can transform Nigeria into a strong and Digital Economy in the Post pandemic era.”

Enumerating some of the programmes NITDA was engaged with, Mallam Abdulahi, who was represented by the Agency’s Director, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, noted that at the outbreak 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 challenges of the society,” he said.

He further noted that a Tech4COVID-19 Committee was constituted with the aim of identifying the challenges the Technology ecosystem was 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 includes 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.

Abdullahi said: “We also organized 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 DG assured, was also working on a special support scheme for Startups and Hubs, tagged the NITDA Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (NTIESS).

The scheme, he said, would accommodate sub-schemes in areas covering Incubation Programme; Technical Capacity Building; Internship Programme, and Hub Up-scaling.

Mallam Abdullahi noted that Nigeria had 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 the academia to nurture the creativity of our youths. Collaboratively, we in NITDA are can make Nigeria a nucleus of innovation“.

NITDA’s boss also explained that his agency’s programmes also reached out to Agritech with the National Adopted Village for SMART Agriculture (NAVSA), an ecosystem-driven digital platform which engaged 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 added, were 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 era.

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