BY DELE OGBODO
The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has stated that Nigeria will make speedy progress and prosperity if stakeholders reinvent innovativeness and creativity in its way of life.
The DG spoke at the celebration of NITDA 20th Anniversary and World Creativity and Innovation Day (WCID) on Wednesday in Abuja.
He acknowledged that the WCID is recognised by the United Nations and designated to celebrate creativity and innovation and raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation in problem-solving to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
According to him, UN recognises the importance of creativity and innovation to humanity, hence designated the 21st of April as the World Creativity and Innovation Day, adding that the celebration started in 2018.
Innovation is a vital key to the prosperity of any nation, and our prospects for future economic growth largely hinges on our ability to innovate, Abdullahi, said.
He added that innovation is the ability to invent and drive those inventions towards commercialisation and job creation, explaining that it is not surprising that the wealthier nations lead in innovation with China reaping the benefits of its tech creative populace.
“He said: “Innovations, particularly market-creating innovations, have the potential to transform nations and lift them out of poverty.
“Market-creating innovation pulls infrastructure and investments that can transform the economy and create prosperity. We learned from history how Henry Ford introduced the Ford Model T in the United States and the transformation it brought to America.
“Likewise, just about twenty years ago, when Mo Ibrahim started Celtel in Africa, people laughed at him that he will fail. Here we are, today, the telecommunications industry is the most vibrant economic sector in the continent. It has transformed societies and provided jobs to millions of citizens by creating new markets and opportunities.”
According to him, Nigerian digital innovation space is making waves on the African continent and beyond. According to a report by the Startup Genome and a survey on Nigerian Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), there is about 6,500 MSMEs, some in the digital, with Lagos having about 700 digital innovation registered businesses worth over $2 billion.
It is also noteworthy that Nigeria’s bustling fintech ecosystem, with over 200 fintech, global attention and venture capital investment.
At NITDA, we have identified innovation as a critical tool for implementing National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy. We have taken bold steps to drive our nation’s prosperity by boosting digital innovation and entrepreneurship, he stressed.
He said NITDA is celebrating the day within the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics premises, one of its initiatives to drive technology and market-creating innovations through the use of emerging technologies.
The National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, the NITDA Boss, said is purposely built to drive cutting-edge innovations in emerging technologies through robust research and development programs. Of course, we plan to boost innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDEs) through innovations, thereby creating many jobs for Nigerian youths.
“We are deeply committed to fostering digital innovation culture among Nigerians. We have several programs and initiatives aimed at boosting the innovative capacity of our youths, which include catch-them-young programs targeted at orienting Nigerian kids to become active players in the digital technology space.
“We are recalibrating our activities to focus on strengthening the Innovation ecosystem, promoting the adoption of emerging technologies for sustainable development, digital job creation, and promoting Nigerian content development and adoption.
In line with our goals of strengthening the innovation ecosystem, we drive catalytic programs, like hackathons and innovation challenge, that will foster an innovation culture. It will also enhance the hubs, where innovative ideas are conceptualised and nurtured.
“Our programmes are designed to build innovation and entrepreneurship capabilities across Nigeria. Some of our key initiatives specifically designed to support the innovation ecosystem are Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support (TIES) Scheme, Bridge MassChallenge Nigeria and MIT-REAP Abuja.”
The Entrepreneurship Mentoring Initiative (EMI), he added is another project designed to provide mentorship services to Nigerian innovators and entrepreneurs.
Abdullahi, said the drive towards building a robust framework and infrastructure to bolster technology innovation for all Nigerians has the firm and usual support of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
According to him, it was the Minister, who formulated the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for Digital Nigeria, is also championing many initiatives and policies that will ignite innovation activities and create wealth and prosperity for our citizens.