By Angeline Mgbele, Bureau Chief, North
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has commenced engagements with international bodies in ensuring that a formidable startup ecosystem is built in the country through resources that are harnessed from global tech giants for the sustenance of the country’s digital economy.
In achieving the mandate of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration towards rejuvenating the country’s tech startup ecosystem with a million tech jobs, NITDA has been proactively socialising with global tech giants by creating platforms for startups where ideas, programmes and expertise can be shared.
The Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa made this known when he received a delegation from the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) led by its Executive Vice President, Trixie Lohmirman to the corporate headquarters of the agency in Abuja, north central, Nigeria.
Welcoming the visitors, the NITDA boss stated that collaboration was highly essential in creating a vibrant tech ecosystem globally and further noted that big techs in the world needed the talents in Africa to survive and thrive.
“When you talk about innovation and talent in the digital economy, Africa is the next frontier in terms of our youthful population. Even the big techs are coming to Nigeria and Africa to open their engineering departments because they need talents to survive”, Mallam Inuwa averred.
While applauding the visitors for organising the yearly Gulf Information Technology Exhibition in Dubai, Inuwa emphatically called on the Dubai World Trade Centre to consider the hosting of GITEX Africa in Nigeria as was done in Marakech Morocco 2023.
“Apparently, we are moving towards having strong conferences in Nigeria and we also need your participation. You should also come to Nigeria”, he added.
He disclosed that the country would be organising two conferences in the year and he thought it was an opportunity for the visitors to leverage their existing relationship and become core partners at the event.
Aside from the annual Digital Nigeria Conference being organised by NITDA in October, the NITDA DG stated that the agency was partnering with the US Consulate General to bring all the US companies to Nigeria for a Pan-African conference in the country which was the Global Tech Africa in November.
“The doors are still open to partner with us because we already have Business Sweden, the German government and other European countries on board for the summit. So, you can also be a sponsor”, he urged.
Conclusively, while expressing the agency’s enthusiasm in understudying how GITEX was being organised, Inuwa said that “I think we can learn from you and explore how we can build this kind of conference in Africa. If we have it in Nigeria, it is not only for Nigerians but all of Africa”.
In her earlier remark, the Executive Vice President(EVP) of the DWTC thanked NITDA for their usual support towards the GITEX, Dubai and stated that Nigeria’s support had remained one of the reasons the conference had recorded tremendous success.
“On the back of your support and the global community, GITEX is now the largest tech show in the world”, she stated.
Giving assurances of their support to Nigeria which she said had the biggest market for startups, Lohmirman sought further collaboration with the agency by providing access to funding for startups in the country.
“This is why we are here to meet up with you as a strategic stakeholder in the Nigerian digital transformation strategy and see how we can extend our collaboration all together to give bigger opportunities and visibility to Nigerians to increase exportation as well as foreign direct investments”, she concluded.
While addressing a team of startups at the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, she declared that “Nigeria possess the secret army that will rule the world global tech ecosystem.”
Stunned by the passion in the young people she met at the centre, the DWTC EVP commended the effort of the Centre and pushed for a startup exchange programme between Nigeria and other countries including UAE.
The meeting provided opportunity for startups to interact with highest body that manages GITEX global with a view of taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the world’s largest tech expo.
The highly elated team from DWTC also called for more collaboration and partnership especially in the area of AI, as the centre is poised to make Nigeria the AI Centre of Africa.