Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi has said that Women and youths must be identified as the biggest drivers of innovation, which is considered a vital key to the prosperity of any great nation. Abdullahi made this known at a Townhall Meeting in Abuja Organised by ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA) with the theme: “Stimulating a Regional Dynamic for Mentoring the Next Generation of Decision Makers.” Represented by the Special Adviser, Strategy and Innovation to the Director General, Iklima Salihu, the NITDA Boss said that women and youths have a significant role in shaping Nigeria’s GDP in the nearest future.
“It is worth noting that the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that Nigeria can gain $229 billion in GDP growth if women’s participation in digital economy sectors nears parity. This means that a larger share of the global digital economy will be fully harnessed, which the World Economic Forum (WEF) projects to be worth US$20.8 trillion by 2025. NITDA has a mandate and a commitment to creating life-transforming opportunities for women and youth that can create a positive domino effect within our societies and foster digital innovation among Nigerians. To that note, the Agency has several programmes and initiatives aimed at boosting local innovative capacity, such as the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) Scheme, idea Hatch (iHatch) Startup Incubation Programme, Bridge to Mass Challenge Nigeria, NINJA Acceleration Programme, North-East Startup Training (NEST), virtual and nano internships, Learn, Teach and Earn programme and MIT-REAP Abuja.
“Nigeria has seen an investment inflow of US$4.4 billion into the startup ecosystem in the last four years,” Abdullahi revealed. While he explained that the utilisation of technology and innovation in all sectors of a nation’s digital economy impacts its growth, economic well-being, and survivability, the NITDA DG added that the increased participation of tech-savvy youth and women is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Accordingly, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is primarily implementing the NDEPS and has drawn out its Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021 – 2024). The SRAP, which has seven strategic pillars, focuses on investing in Nigeria’s youth, building capacities in innovative and disruptive technologies and facilitating Nigeria’s digital transformation.”
On NITDA’s Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), another NITDA Special Purpose Vehicle, being responsible for incubating ideas and developing an enabling environment for startups to thrive, Abdullahi mentioned that about 33,500 jobs have been created in the country, while a remarkable 3.3 million Nigerians from all works of life have been trained in various facets of IT such as Cybersecurity, Digital Literacy, Artificial Intelligence, and Cloud Computing courtesy of collaboration with stakeholders. “The Agency’s efforts are not only restricted to capacity-building programmes and initiatives
We are also currently developing a Gender Digital Inclusion Strategy, which has identified the barriers that impede women from utilising and gaining the benefits of their inclusion in IT. This strategy will outline the steps that will be taken to bridge the gap that exists in our digital economy and a National Digital Talent Strategy, which identifies the skills necessary to bridge the existing skills gap,” he concluded.