By Angeline Mgbele, Senior Correspondent, Abuja
The Federal Government has directed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone Limited and Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to collaborate with the seven champions of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS) which includes the winner of WSIS 2022 to ensure that their innovative solutions are of global benefits.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy(FMoCDE) and Chairman of WSIS 2022, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami made this known in Abuja during the awards presentation ceremony of WSIS Champions for 2020, 2021 and 2022.
“I want to use this opportunity on behalf of Federal government of Nigeria to direct NITDA, Galaxy Backbone and NCC to look at your solutions and identify where you need support so that the solution will not just remain as a startup, but rather we want to build the solution here and becoming the tech giant at least in the next few years and this is our ambition”, Prof. Pantami said.
Pantami stated that he was hopeful after the three institutions of government had had sessions with the WSIS champions, they would have their performances reviewed and rendered support where necessary so that their solutions would go beyond where they were presently and be of global benefit.
The FMoCDE minister said the WSIS event, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland had technical sessions where youths around the world were challenged to submit their projects covering e-health, e-agriculture, e-education and other fields.
“The heads of the technical session presented their results to me in Geneva and I am glad to say that some of our young innovators emerged as the global winners and champions”, he said.
The winner for the WSIS 2022 Hackathon is Afrilingo by Franca Umasoye Igwe while the other six champions were, Association of Women in Technology in Nigeria by Martha Alade (2022); Initiative for Mothers with Cerebal Palsy Children in Nigeria by Rachael Inegbedion (2021); Top Up and Get Reward Limited by Samuel Babatunde (2021); Wizwish International Farm by Wisdom Ikpechukwu (2020); Chipsnbrain by Oluwaseyi Akinolu (2020); and Makerspace Project by Oreoluwa Lesi (2020)
Pantami said because there wasn’t any formal sessions for 2020 and 2021 due, to COVID-19, the winners and champions for the aforementioned years were presented their awards during WSIS 2022.
“Furthermore we are all aware that the Federal Government through the ministry and office of the Chief of Staff to President worked on the Nigerian startup bill which has already been passed by both arms of the National Assembly; we believe that in the next few days Mr. President will look into it and it will become a law.
He opined that when the startup bill was eventually passed into law, it would be among the major achievements of not only this administration but throughout the history of the Digital Economy and ICT in Nigeria.
“In that bill, there are provisions of so many benefits for our young innovators and startups, like pioneer status, grants, incentives, loans and also the law when approved will establish a presidential council where Mr. President will chair the council and he will be supported by the Vice President and the Minister incharge of the Digital Economy will be the vice-chair, where government, private sector and young innovators will come together; look into their challenges and Mr. President will give directives there and then for the sector to continue to be very successful”, said Pantami.
The CEO, Afrilingo, Franca Umasoye Igwe thanked the Minister and Federal Government of Nigeria for the recognition.
While one of the WSIS champion Chief Executive Officer of Women in Technology in Nigeria Mrs. Martha Alade appreciated the Honorable Minister’s effort to personally present their awards to them and not have them couriered which she said showed how passionate Prof Pantami was about startup and the ICT ecosystem in general.
WSIS is the largest ICT event where development of the sector is put in the front burner. All the 193 United Nation countries are members.