NITDA @20: FG unveils 4-year roadmap to consolidate digital economy

Dr Isa Pantami,Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,Mr Kashifu Inuwa,Director-General of NITDA and other dignitaries at the unveiling of the agency’s four years Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan in Abuja

The Federal Government has unveiled new Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP), 2021 to 2024, for the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to align with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).

The unveiling of the strategy held concurrently with an anniversary lecture and became part of activities to celebrate the agency’s 20 years of establishment.

The theme was “Celebrating Growth and Resilience”.

The SRAP was developed alongside the eight pillars of NDEPS, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan for digital economy.

The roadmap had seven pillars which included: development regulation, digital literacy and skills, digital transformation, digital innovation and entrepreneurship, cyber security, emerging technologies and promotion of indigenous content.

Unveiling the roadmap, Dr Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, urged NITDA to focus more on IT project clearance and creating awareness on the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation and other key areas of IT sector.

“The journey so far on IT project clearance has been commendable but we need to improve more on surveillance so we can fight corruption by reducing the price of IT projects being executed by the Federal Public Institutions.

“We also need to improve on Nigerian Data Protection Regulation; this is an area we need to create more awareness.

“We also need to build the capacity of our citizens, particularly in unserved and underserved areas.

“Digital Nigeria is about accommodating all; NITDA has been training women and disabled people.
“We do hope that the FG will provide more support for the agency so that significant number of our population particularly in rural areas will have digital skills where necessary for digital Nigeria,” he said.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said that the NDEPS needed a strategic action plan by stakeholders for achievements to be recorded.

Inuwa further said that it was designed in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders by identifying gaps and opportunities in Nigeria’s digital economy aspiration.

“The objectives of the strategy are to articulate a new strategy for NITDA in accordance with the current aspirations of the government, the realities of today and the demands of the future; to contribute its quota towards the implementation of NDEPS.

“We are talking about digitilising everything we do and we have started the implementation; we are working on digitalising the agric sector, the education sector, the banking sector, digitilising almost everything.

“So, this strategy is going to help in coming up with new ideas on how to disrupt the conventional way of doing things and digitalise everything in Nigeria,” he said.

The director general added that every pillar of the SRAP had its goals, initiatives to drive the attainment of the goals, objectives and desired impact.

He added that a new approach was introduced for the SRAP by formation of work streams into the implementation process.

“This work stream approach will aid the harmonisation of roles, smoother planning, cross pollination of ideas and better inter-departmental planning.”

Mr Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, a Cyber Security expert and also the guest lecturer, said that the agency had recorded great achievements, increased ICT awareness and created jobs.

He said that the agency had also contributed to internet penetration, empowered youths, improved IT to contribute to Gross Domestic Product, among other strides.

According to Ajijola, continuity, principled flexibility with efficiency were the keys to its growth and resilience as well as relevance.

He said: “there is no area of IT that is not important, but NITDA should focus on building human capacity and making long-term investment at the primary level.

“NITDA should be aware that accredited people are the basis of startup economy and we must continually build self-sustaining ecosystems.

“Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises produce more jobs than any other segment and thus we must focus on empowering and multiplying them.

“In our policies, plans and decision-making processes we should factor the underserved, unserved and unborn because they are not here to make inputs, yet they must live with the consequences of our decisions.”

Mr Abubakar Nuhu, Acting Director-General of National Directorate of Employment (NDE), said that the organisation was leveraging ICT for jobs creation, hence sharing similar vision with NITDA.

Nuhu gave the assurance that that having identified ICT as a fast growing tool for employment, the directorate would continue to deploy it to better the lives of citizens.

Goodwill messages came from Nigeria Internet Registration Association, Nigerian Computer Society, Digital Africa, Korea International Cooperation Agency, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion.

All wished the agency greater achievements in the IT ecosystem.

NITDA was created on April 18, 2001 with the mandate to implement the Nigerian National IT Policy, regulate IT in the country, among other responsibilities.(NAN)