|Director General of The National Information Technology Development Association (NITDA), Dr. Vincent Olatunji|
In his recently held meeting with Lagos-based online media and bloggers community on Thursday, the Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, described the commitment of his office in rebranding the image of the country while taking advantage of the 21st century economy shift we are witnessing.
While declaring its agency’s decision in pursuing an ‘all-round ICT based SMEs’, the DG expressed his utmost confidence in using this as a channel for retracing the missing link in the economy considered to be lagging behind while also serving as an avenue for creating youth empowerment opportunities which are currently lacking in the Nation.
With a clearly-stated mission to develop and regulate the information and communication technology sector for sustainable national development, NITDA therefore is set on delivering on this main course.
On this affirmation, the DG of NITDA, dwelled more on the vision of the agency in making ICT the main instrument for transforming the Nigerian economy into a profitable IT-driven economy.
He further expressed his feelings towards the way our world is vastly changing and the need to take advantage of this growing industry;
“The way we live and we love and work have completely gone virtual; today, we have online dating websites where two lovebirds meets and agrees to holy matrimony afterwards, and according to statistical analysis, some of these incidents have resulted into a fruitful relationship; internet purchasing activities in Nigeria is on the upward curves as a result of ICT, so it is imperative for NITDA to build up capacity to maintain these online activities and ensure utmost benefits are derived from it”, Dr. Olatunji concludes.
Technology has evolved over the years, and it is having a positive effect on how we do things. It serves as a criterion for employment opportunities in public and private sector, a motor for international relationship, a means of acquiring information for educational purposes, avenue for business growth and marketing and so forth. Hardly can one live a day without having anything to do with technology related products. We live it.
While enumerating the socio-economic advantages of ICT-based SMEs, he stated that this would help in making Nigeria a focal point for the ever-growing digital economy in Africa. Dr. Olatunji cited English language which is well-spoken among tech entrepreneurs in the country, Nigeria’s population, high rate of education, and the willingness of our youths to embrace ICT as some of the key advantages prospective investors in this innovative economy will be looking at. In supplementing those efforts, the agency, with its vision to be the prime catalyst for transforming Nigeria into an IT driven economy, has launched a platform aimed at showcasing these tech-preneurs by leveraging various mediums available. One of such avenue is the e-Nigeria Conference and Expo, which according to him serves as “clearing house for adopting relevant ideas and innovation for defining and accelerating national economic growth”. The Nigeria’s #1 ICT conference is a well thought-out platform to bring key players of the Nigerian innovation ecosystem and foreign and local stakeholders together to share ideas, insights, experiences, identify challenges and proffer definitive strategies for using ICT-enabled innovation and entrepreneurship to expand the economy and create jobs.
In other development, NITDA in collaboration with Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), is gearing up towards massively represent Nigeria at the upcoming GiTEX Technology Week slated to hold between October 16 – 20 with its crucial interest in exposing the wealth of raw talents and potentials of our local technology startups. GiTEX Technology week is the premier Technology event that takes place every year in the Middle East Africa and South Asia (MEASA) to showcase newer inventions and innovative ideas up for grabs in front of top brands such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google and the rest.
NITDA is smoothing the progress of Nigeria’s participation at three levels including the Nigerian Pavilion, Nigerian Startups hubs housed inside the very popular Innovation Hub which he claims is focused towards ‘bringing together what we have here, take the best out there to showcase, strike deals with investors and sell’, and the GiTEX Africa Investment Forum being co-managed by the agency and the DWTC.
According to the DG, “all these levels of participation are structured to ensure maximum publicity for ICT sector and other non-oil generating sectors which is a prime economic objective of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.” Dubai has become a global hub for business activities and through its efficient leadership and strategic partnership with DWTC and support from the Consular Office in Dubai, the agency has commenced talks with several business prospects in the region with prospects of exporting our local brands to foreign lands for global exposure and acceptance.
He then afterward tasked the online media representatives to positively support the efforts of the agency in creating awareness in the area of ICT so as to create authenticity and eliminate fear of the people in leveraging the infrastructure provided, and in patronizing local brands over foreign counterparts.
When asked on his stand in line with the current online tech reporting situations in the country, he said there’s freedom of speech and everybody has rights to his own opinion so far it is not aimed at attacking other person’s personality or human rights. He stressed the need for reorientation of ideas and awareness while also citing the case of the Cyber Act Law which is now officially incorporated into the Federal Government of Nigeria’s law.
“We have Cyber Act Law – two years ago, we don’t have any law for ICT. Though it is not perfect, but we are working on improving it every single minute of the day.”
Since Nigeria started participating in GiTEX, which is billed to kick-off on October 16 this year at the Dubai World Trade Centre, this is going to be the first time it’ll be showcasing home-grown tech startups at the global show. While making a pledge to always interact with online and conventional media on NITDA activities, the DG also promised to extend all aspects of media partnership with the Agency which includes training, empowerment and access to the online media community, describing them as “veritable agents of change in the digital age”.
Notable names at the Lagos based technology bloggers media meetup with the DG of NITDA are; the head of private communications for NITDA, Hajia Umar; Director of NITDA for South West, Mr. Abejide; Amarachi from corporate department of NITDA; Ejiofor Agada from Tech Brand Review; Stephen Jesuwale from African Public Sector Magazine; Olawale Daniel from TechAtLast; Kayode Akindele from The Lagos Times; Ojo Ebenezer from 234Today and host of other dignitaries.