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Cushioning COVID-19 impact on Tech Start-ups, SMEs, Business: DG NITDA Inaugurates Advisory Committee

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The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi,  CCIE, in line with the Agency’s mandate of developing and regulating Information Technology (IT) for sustainable national development, has today, Wednesday 1st April, 2020, inaugurated a 10-Member Advisory Committee to advise Government on measures to be taken to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on start-ups, small and medium businesses as well as the Technology Ecosystem in general.

According to a statement signed by the Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, Mrs Hadiza Umar, said concerned with the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ICT sector, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, directed NITDA to urgently look into how the Federal Government can effectively provide the enabling environment for Technology Start-ups and ICT businesses to help in mitigating the potential impact of the pandemic on their businesses.

The Committee has the Chairman, Innovation Support Network (ISN) and President, African Business Angels Network (ABAN), Mr Tomi Davies, as its Chairperson. Other members of the Committee include Amal Hassan, MD/CEO, Outsource Global, Bosun Tijani, MD/CEO Co-Creation Hub (CCHub), Juliet Anammah, Chairperson Jumia Nigeria and Head, International Affairs, Jumia Group, Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform, Musa Ali Baba, MD/CEO Teasy Pay, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Co-Founder, Andela, Collins Onuegbu, MD/CEO Signal Alliance and Dr . Kalli Zannah, Special Assistant to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. Dr Amina Sambo-Magaji, the National Coordinator, Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), is to serve as Member/Secretary.

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While inaugurating the Committee, the DG NITDA, indicated that the constitution of the Committee is at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. He also said that they were carefully selected for their significant contributions to the ICT sector in general and the Technology and Innovation ecosystem in particular. He therefore charged them to consider the assignment as a call to national duty, especially at this critical time when the Federal Government is making all efforts to ensure the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as minimize its impact on the economy.

The Terms of Reference of the Advisory Committee, as listed by the DG, include:

  • devise 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;
  • devise modalities for encouraging the development and adoption of digital technology use support policies in line with the ‘Work From Home’ directives of the Federal Government; and
  • develop a support program for Innovation Hubs to facilitate access to remote resources by startups during the work from home as well as other forms of support the hubs may require to be sustainable.

In an effort to ensure the involvement of all stakeholders, especially tech and tech enabled start-ups, a Stakeholder engagement instrument is developed.

In line with the social distancing measures aimed at minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies were used for the inauguration. It is also expected that the Committee will make effective use of digital technologies in carrying out this assignment. The Committee has been assigned 48 hours to submit its preliminary report.

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