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Abdullahi: We are Fine-tuning Strategy, Engaging Stakeholders on Digital Innovation

By Mohammed Mohammed

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam  Kashifu Abdullahi, has reiterated that as part of efforts by government to grow the nation’s economy through digital technologies, the agency under supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has made second presentation of Nigeria Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy (NDIESP)   to the public, particularly IT stakeholders for further review and additional input.

This effort, he acknowledged is in line with National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria.

The National Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy (NDIESP) being championed by ministry, comprises of six priority thrusts namely: Advancing Human Capital, Unlocking Access to Capital, Enabling Infrastructure, Boosting Demand, supporting R&D, and Promoting Innovative Entrepreneurship, is formulated to achieve a digital innovation and entrepreneurship driven nation that would become a norm that focuses on seeing improvement in the areas of digital technologies.

As the nation exited from recession, the NDIESP proposes that Digital innovation and entrepreneurship  would help fast track the recovery of other traditional economic sectors by supporting the provision and adoption of indigenous and tailor-made solutions for nationwide implementation of the policy through automation, smart processes and ICT solutions, while applying to key in stakeholders in government, innovation-driven enterprises, consumers of innovation, technology start-ups, innovation hubs and labs, investors, academia, funding agencies, civil society organisations (CSOs), service providers, and others into the policy

The NITDA Director General, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, while making his presentation earlier at the Public Sector Stakeholders’ Engagement organized by the agency, disclosed that the idea behind the formulation of this policy is to bring to the table different and innovative approaches in realizing President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the country.

“The reason we gathered here today is to present a reviewed draft National Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy for the second time which has the primary objective of digital transformation of our economy with the potential of boosting economic growth and economic diversification. This is a task that requires all hands to be on deck,” said the DG, who was represented by Director ITIS, Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi.

He opined that for this digital transformation to become a reality, Nigeria must pay attention to harnessing the quality and the relevance of its population, while it continues to maintain the 60:40 ratio of STEM students in universities to other disciplines, adding that more attention should be paid to the curricular that are being used to teach  and how relevant they to the digital economy. 

“We are all aware that there is no innovation where new knowledge does not exist. The most innovative countries in the world that  control the market share of the $11.5 trillion global digital economy are the countries with immense public and private sectors that are funding research and development. We must commit to accelerating our research and development; beginning with our intellectual property environment and solving the underlying problems of funding for innovation research.”

“Also relevant to the realization of our digital Nigeria vision is the funding required for startups, spinoffs and already established companies in their quest for digital solutions development for the market. For it is in the application of knowledge and its conversion into useful products for the people that innovation ushers in prosperity. While many tax incentives exist already, we must bring together these initiatives in ways that ensure ease of access to those who need to access it. Beyond tax incentives, we must also create innovative ways of facilitating patient venture capital that will provide the runway that these innovative companies require. 

“Even as we put all these in place, we must also commit to promoting digital entrepreneurship amongst our youth by all means necessary and put in place the framework that boosts demand for digital products in the economy through government patronage by procurement of these digital innovation products,” he said.

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