*Trained over 740 in digital technology and deployed 86 digital learning centres for local capacity
Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said the nation must build local capacity to solve problems to be relevant and successful in IT.
NITDA DG, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami was speaking on day two of the ongoing 27th National Conference organised by Nigeria Computer Society at International Conference at University of Ibadan, in Oyo State.
“if you want to be successful in IT you must build capacity locally. Use local innovations to solve local problems.”
According to him, this way the country could create a technology value change, a formidable tech ecosystem with many suppliers and consumers, with many innovators for national growth development.
“Nigeria loses a significant amount of foreign exchange annually from the importation of ICT goods and services. A large proportion of this is spent on software imports. We are working hard to reverse this trend and indigenous ICT businesses, including the many who are members of CPN, stand to benefit greatly from a local content policy that encourages the development of local ICT products and services’, adding, this must change.”
He expalined that to this end the Agency has trained over 740 persons in digital technology and deployed 86 digital learning centres across the federation.
NITDA embarks on Regulation, Capacity Building, Local Content Development, Digital Job Creation, E-Governance, Cyber Security, and Digital Inclusion as pillars of its 4-year Roadmap.
NITDA’s vision, he said, is to be Nigeria’s prime Agency and catalyst for transforming Nigeria into a knowledge-based and IT-driven economy. Strategic partnerships with leading institutions like NCS are necessary to ensure sustainable development in the sector.
“The process of developing an ICT sector as diverse and complex as ours is quite daunting. However, the potential benefits of developing such a critical sector would result in benefits that far outweigh the challenges. A well-developed ICT sector will significantly improve any economy. It will reduce capital flight, create jobs, generate revenue and help to position Africa as a producer of world-class ICT products and not just consumer of such products.”
Proper regulation makes development easier to achieve. As such, we renewed our emphasis on regulation and developed standards and guidelines for different aspects of the ICT sector. In addition to this, we have put the necessary machinery in place to ensure compliance. As the clearing house for Information Technology Projects in Nigeria, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government now come to us for the clearance of their ICT projects. We do this to ensure that there is no duplication, there is value for money and that the projects are sustainable, he explained.
Speaking further, Pantami said all the MDAs have been provided with a copy of the template and the IT clearance process will help in building standardized IT infrastructures as well as efficient IT systems and services. It will reduce the cost of IT investments and will ensure commensurate value is derived from every IT investment. Eventually, these efforts will spur innovations and enhance MDAs responsiveness to their obligations.
Local Content Development and Promotion was chosen as one of the pillars of our Roadmap because we understand the importance of indigenous entrepreneurs to the growth of the sector. We already have Local Content Guidelines and are actively enforcing them. We have issued guidelines for government websites and are currently supervising the repatriation of all government regulated and generated data.
Our Correspondent gathered thagt the Federal Government issued Executive Orders #3 and #5 to support the development of local content in the country and we are supporting the Federal Government in the enforcement of these orders. On the one hand, we are creating a market for our local OEMs by ensuring that government institutions give a preference to local products in their procurement process. On the other hand, we have also increased the level of regulation of these OEMs to ensure that they meet global best practice standards and provide readily accessible after-sales support for their customers.
We also learned that there a Cybersecurity department was created to focus on this sector. We have been proactive in securing the Nigerian Cyberspace and this ensured that the Wannacry Ransomware and similar global threats did not affect us in Nigeria. We are also currently embarking on a massive cybersecurity awareness programme across the country.
We have had engagements with most of the MDAs as part of our effort to promote Government Digital Services. Some of our activities include the training of CEOs of these MDAs in emerging areas of ICT. A workshop was recently organized for MDAs on the IT clearance process. As part of our efforts, we have also entered into partnerships with key parastatals like the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.
NITDA says it is currently developing an Enterprise Architecture for the Nigerian government and have a draft Nigerian Interoperability Framework (NeGIF). We are reviewing the .gov.ng process and have significantly shortened the registration turnaround time from 2 weeks to 24hrs. E-government is an enabler for productivity and efficiency in government and we know that an IT-enabled public service will provide better service for the citizens.
The need for effective capacity building efforts cannot be over emphasized. We have enabled thousands of our youth to improve their capacity in leading areas of ICT and have helped them to develop their entrepreneurial skills using ICT. We have supported the development of the startup and innovation ecosystem through our subsidiary, the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship.