Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, has stated that the Agency is targeting creating one million jobs in the ICT sector this year.
The DG said this during a visual submission of the report of the NITDA Advisory Committee on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Technology and Innovation Ecosystem, also termed ‘Tech4COVID19’. He maintained that the government is targeting to create or retain one million jobs in the ICT sector this year.
Kashifu stated that NITDA is looking at empowering startups doing agricultural value chains, empowering hubs, developing and implementing the framework of business process outsourcing and other areas, so as to create thousands of jobs either directly or indirectly.
He said: “In doing so, I urge the committee to develop a business plan; stating facts and figures on how the IT sector will create and protect jobs. What I want from the committee are two things: One, for example, you state that we have 100 thousand workforce and if the government does not do anything to intervene during this pandemic we are going to lose the 100 thousand jobs or if the government intervenes by doing some certain things we are going to retain all the 100 thousand jobs and create additional 30 thousand jobs.”
He affirmed that if we have the facts and figures to present to the government, they will intervene quickly as job creation is one of its top priorities. Furthermore, Kashifu asserted that for the government to have full understanding and confidence that the IT sector will contribute greatly in terms of job creation, the facts and figures must be justifiable and accurate.
He emphasised that the committee is not to address the pre- COVID-19 issues, but to look into the issues and challenges of the In-COVID-19 and prepare the nation for the post-COVID-19 world.
He said: “We all believe that a lot of things will change after this pandemic. Some believe that the 4th industrial revolution will take place. As such we need to unlock these hidden opportunities or identify the silver lining which is the Digital First and keep businesses up and running.”
“A lot of technologies will come on board and people will embrace them. A lot of things are going to change and a lot of businesses are going to be powered by technologies.”
Concerning the recommendations, Kashifu assured the committee that NITDA and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami will do everything possible in their capacity to see that all the highlighted recommendations in the 4 critical areas are tackled accordingly.
He further informed the members of the committee that in regards to the hubs intervention, the agency intends to provide them with a business opportunity where they can earn money, have startups and create more job opportunities as it is the focus of the agency and the government.
He then urged the hubs to come up with a business proposal on how many job opportunities can be created and how much is needed. On the business process outsourcing, Mallam Kashifu assured the committee that the Agency will fast track its process and bring out positive results soon.
He applauded the efforts of the committee in delivering a timely report despite the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, stating that the briefing from the chairman of the committee shows that everything is on track and ready for implementation.
This Advisory Committee which was constituted at the wake of the pandemic in Nigeria, on April 1st, by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami came up with measures to be taken to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on startups, small and medium businesses as well as the technology ecosystem in general.
The 10 member Advisory committee was given the term of reference to, among others, device suitable strategies for the provision of affordable internet access to individuals and businesses; develop a framework to facilitate access to financing for tech and tech-enabled ventures, and device modalities for encouraging the development and adoption of digital technology, as well as support policies in line with the “Work from Home” directive of the federal government.