By Chinenye Anuforo
The Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi has said that regulating indigenous content development and adoption is one of the strategic pillars that is transforming Nigeria’s economy, as well as putting the country on the right track in achieving digital economy.
Abdullahi said this at an online webinar on Local Content Policy in the ICT Sector with the theme: “Local Content Policy in the ICT Sector as key to Achieving Objectives of the Digital Economy in Nigeria” organised by Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) in collaboration with NITDA and Speedstar.
He stated that in August, 2020, NITDA updated the Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT to align with the two issued executive orders 003 and 005, which led to enforcing compliance with all local content policy in IT projects through the Agency’s IT project clearance mandate.
“Through our modest efforts we have transformed the landscape and stimulated demand for made in Nigeria ICT products and services. Our policies have increased the consumption of local hardware in an unprecedented manner from annual sale of 113,814 in 2015 to 414, 510 in 2018 and 364,376 in 2019. We also facilitated patronage of indigenous software, amounting to over 3 billion naira through our regulatory local content guidelines and IT clearance,” he said.
He added that Local Content Policy in the ICT sector under the purview of the Agency has played a crucial role in increasing the consumption of local content, placing policies on the use of local content items in the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) across the country.
“The Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, has given a special priority to diversification through strengthening of our indigenous content and local production with the motive to boost the boost the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2015 the country’s economy was down due to the fall in oil price crash, a team of experts was setup to develop policy for the government to diversify our economy, which gave birth to Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 – 2020.”
“The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, for the purpose of restoring economic growth, building a globally competitive economy and accelerating inclusive growth by investing in our people the nation’s most priceless assets. The policy also identified Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the key enabler, he added.
The NITDA boss said that the Federal Government of Nigeria issued two executive orders 003 in May, 2017 to support procurements of local content products and services by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), while Executive Order 005 was issued in February, 2018 to promote Nigerian content in planning, execution of projects and contracts in science engineering and technology respectively.
“Digital Economy is the fastest growing economy in Nigeria and the World in general. To sustain and consolidate the growth we need to ignite innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital space. Most of our initiatives today are innovation ecosystem centric that will help us to come up with ideas that will create values in Digital space,” he emphasized.
He further stated that guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT require Multinational Companies (MNCs) operating in Nigeria to submit a annual report on local content development activities. According to him, assessment of the 2018-2019 Local Content Development Reports submitted by 9 MNCs indicates that a total of 663 Nigerians are employed by the MNCs and also, about 2,033 direct and indirect jobs were created through the MNCs activities.
The DG added that it also supported 88 Nigerian Startups, trained 28,773 Nigerians on emerging technologies, 58,892 Girls/Women trained in ICT, about 1,354,988 Nigerians were trained in Digital Skills, 71,289 ICT Scholarship Programs for Nigerians, 519,313 Nigerians were trained in ICT Professional Development.
“To sustain and consolidate on these achievements, the government rolled out Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan and in line with the sustainability plan our Ministry under the leadership of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, sought the President’s approval to re-designate and expand the mandate of our Ministry to cover digital economy. This request was graciously approved and the Minister formulated the National Digital Economy Policy for Digital Nigeria. The minister has issued more than a dozen policies to support the implementation of the Digital economy.
“Digital economy is mainly driven by rapid business innovation, using digital technology to deliver new customer value proposition, new business model, new organizational structure, new customer experience, operational excellence and enhanced products and services. This cannot be achieved in isolation; we need innovation ecosystem.
“It is obvious that innovation is not evenly distributed globally but there is something common among all innovative countries. They all have a strong innovation ecosystem.
“To build a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Nigeria, we have keyed into MIT program call REAP – Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program. REAP is a global capstone initiative that provides opportunity for communities to engage with MIT in an evidence-based and practical approach to strengthen innovation ecosystem. This centre will serve as a platform for the MIT-REAP initiative,” he said
Abdullahi pointed out that COVID-19 has impacted lives in an unprecedented way, many aspects of lives – work, education, economy, entertainment, have moved online. According to data compiled by Visual Capitalist, in a single internet minute in 2020, consumer spend more than 1m USD, over 42 million messages shared via WhatsApp, more than 1.4 million people make video or voice call, over 150,000 messages shared on Facebook, more than 319 new accounts created on Twitter, LinkedIn users apply for over 69,000 jobs, more than 6,500 packages shipped by Amazon, and over 200,000 people participate in Zoom meetings.