COVID-19: Agency tasks technology experts on innovations

Na'ankwat Dariem, Abuja

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The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, has urged Nigerian technology experts to get ready for new innovations and ideas to overcome the post COVID-19 era and the current economic challenges posed by the pandemic.

Inuwa stated this during the Africa Tech Leaders Webinar Series organised by Digital Jewels with the theme: COVID-19 Pandemic; The Africa Leaders’ Outlook.

The DG noted that with the challenges of Coronavirus , African countries can still key into technology, digitise its processes and boost the continent’s economy after the pandemic.

He said that Nigeria, through policies and regulations, has already laid a foundation on which digital services can help revive economies that were ravaged by COVID-19 globally.

Digital transformation
The DG disclosed that digital transformation has positively played a big role during the pandemic in accelerating the trends of digital technologies.

Since the outbreak, the NITDA has come up with different programmes to cushion the effect of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

He said the scourge has completely shattered so many planned events and activities across the globe but should not deter innovators from coming up with new ideas that will help in reviving Nigeria’s economy.

“For me, the promising silver lining in this pandemic is accelerating technology trends and shaping the future of digital economy and digital transformation in general.

“When President Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015, he promised to make drastic changes in Nigeria, particularly in the economic sector. The government then set up a committee on Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ERGP, which identified ICT as a key enabler.

“We took digital transformation as a journey and it started some years back. President Muhammadu Buhari re-designated our Ministry from Communications to Communications and Digital Economy. This is a giant step in achieving our target in transforming Nigeria into a digital country.

“The Federal Executive Council set up a policy that will be cascaded to MDAs and NITDA is issuing regulatory instruments that can help any MDAs to perform its work better. Also, we issued guidelines, standard and framework for government policymakers and other stakeholders to deliver their technological services efficiently,” he said.

Rising cost of data and poor network connectivity in Nigeria
Inuwa said the rising cost of data and poor connectivity in Nigeria“is not within NITDA’s jurisdiction. It is the Nigerian Communications Commission NCC that has the mandate to license telecommunication and internet service providers. However, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has been talking about improving the services, especially reviewing the cost, which is a process. NCC is already working on that and I am sure they will engage stakeholders to improve telecommunication services “.

Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge
The the idea of the recently concluded challenge was to find a solution to the effect of Coronavirus using technology measures.

“We initiated Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge that brought innovators together to ideate digital strategies and how to contain the spread of the virus and prepare us for post COVID-19 era. During the opening of the challenge, we received over 1500 applications from different ministries, agencies, Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 and the private sector”, Inuwa said.

Role of NITDA in IT adoption
The DG highlighted the role of NITDA in ensuring IT adoption, stating that some of the policies the agency has rolled out include Nigerian Enterprise Architecture and Nigerian e-Government Master plan, which are documented to highlight short and long term plans on what NITDA intend to achieve in IT adoption and investment.

“At NITDA, we came up with different initiatives to prepare the way for Digital transformation among others. We have developed and implemented as follows: Nigeria e-government master plan, Nigeria e-Government Framework, Nigeria e-Government Enterprise Architecture, Nigeria Cloud Computing Polices, Digital First initiative and Nigeria Smart Initiative Policy Framework. These initiatives have been helping us all during this COVID-19. They will continue to assist us even after the pandemic”, he said.

NITDA has been clearing IT projects from different ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure quality service is rendered.

“NITDA makes sure all IT projects from MDAs are being cleared by NITDA as stipulated in the law. We check the value for money and local content compliance which aligns with our National e-Government Master plan. We also conducted extensive capacity building training for MDAs and citizens in general on how to adopt and embrace digital technology”, he added .

 

Nneka Ukachukwu