NITDA Book: Chronicling digital innovation and regulation
The recently presented book, Digital Innovation for Economic Prosperity in Nigeria at PRNigeria Centre, Abuja provides readers with insights into the latest development in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in the country.
The book, authored by Inyene Ibanga, the Editor of Techdigest, was released in honour of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, as well as the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, on their second year in office respectively.
The 213-page book engages with over 40 issues in the ICT sector, spread through eight chapters, and relating to: “Enhancing Start-Ups”, “Strengthening Innovative Solutions”, “Managing Data for Productivity”, “Protecting Cybersecurity”, “Accessing E-Learning”, “Promoting Digital Inclusion”, “Transforming the Way of Doing Things” and “Advancing the Digital Economy.”
Asides highlighting a host of positive developments in the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the book also speaks to the plethora of innovative activities carried out by NITDA in the past two years.
Published by Image Merchants Promotion Limited, the publisher of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, some of the major subjects treated in the book include issues around the social media, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cybersecurity, big data, the Internet of Things, among others.
As a tech journalist, I can testify to the reality of the huge developments in the ICT sector, as chronicled in this very critical compendium on its leaps and bounds in Nigeria.
As outlined in the book, since the appointment of Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi as the boss of NITDA on August 20, 2019, the impact of the agency has been highly felt by many of the sector stakeholders through its various interventions, including capacity building programmes, digital literacy campaigns, ICT skill acquisitions events, smart agriculture initiatives, among others.
Moreover, the agency has sought to enhance the potentials of Nigerian farmers through the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) initiative, which aims at changing the face of the agriculture sector in the country.
NITDA has also developed regulatory frameworks for information technology development in the country. Some of these comprise the Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA), the Public-Private Partnership regulatory framework for ICT and eGovernment projects, Government Digital Service Framework (GDSFrame), and the National Block Chain Adoption Strategy Document, Nigeria Digital Agriculture Strategy (NDAS-2020-2030). Also, there is the Business Process Management Guide for Federal Public Institutions (FPIs), Management System Guidelines for Federal Public Institutions (FPIs), Government Digital Transformation Performance (Readiness) Assessment Toolkit (GDT-PAT), and the eGovernment Masterplan and Digital Transformation for some selected states.
Moreover, the agency has sought to enhance the potentials of Nigerian farmers through the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) initiative, which aims at changing the face of the agriculture sector in the country. At least 565 farmers have been trained and empowered with digital devices, alongside additional funding for seeds, thereby creating direct and indirect jobs in the country.
The launching of the National Adopted School for Smart Education (NASSE) has so far led to the promotion of digital literacy and skills among students. While a number of secondary schools were beneficiaries of the pilot scheme, the training of over 2,000 artisans in digital literacy and phone repairs have also been enabled across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Equally, NITDA trained 200 women in ICT and Entrepreneurship, with each provided laptops (having pre-installed e-learning and graphics software), internet dongles and bag-packs. It further built the capacity of 300 Nigerians in software, mobile app and web development, coupled with training in entrepreneurship. The agency also launched the NITDA Academy for Research and Training (NART), which has run some 67 courses, has 58,227 students, and has engaged in 55,539 training sessions.
People Living with Disabilities have also not been left behind, as the agency trained 30 of them in Kano and 52 in Enugu, while laptops were given to them as working tools.
In terms of cybersecurity, the agency has conducted five incident analyses affecting the national ICT infrastructure, while handling 34 cases of the hacking of the websites of the ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs); and resolving 15 hacking attempts pertaining to the EndSARS protests, the defacement of 10 MDA websites, and repelling 15 incidents of dark web monitoring.
To leverage the skills and abilities of Nigeria’s pools of talents, NITDA established the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), through which it is determined to drive and support the research, development, and adoption of emerging technologies in Nigeria.
The Centre is creating the required environment for Nigeria’s teeming youths, whilst encouraging innovation and the indigenisation of technologies to help address the continuous reliance on foreign products and services, which have a negative impact on the country’s economy. NCAIR serves as a bridge between the government, industry, and academia in providing a research environment for creativity, ideas integration, collaboration, and the development of ICT policies, processes and strategies.
As a result of Mallam Kashifu’s commitment to the ICT sector, Nigeria made history when it received the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) during the handover ceremony of the Root Certification Authority (RCA) for Country Signing Certification Authority (CSCA), and the Country Verification Certification Authority (CVCA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
With the strategy already in place, the agency has also succeeded in programming, developing and mapping out digital processes to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, since its outbreak globally. The Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge was set up to meet the challenges of our society. Developers, entrepreneurs, and other creative minds have come together to experiment and build software solutions, with an overwhelming number of in-country applicants.
On the level of staff remuneration, Kashifu Inuwa has championed a Condition of Service protocol that includes ‘paternity leave’, which has been endorsed by the Minister, Dr Isa Pantami, and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. This has enhanced staff’s productivity and put NITDA in the category of some high-end public sector organisations like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications COmmission (NCC).