The negative impact the novel coronavirus may have on the digital economy is being alleviated through the “proactiveness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration”, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi, has said.
Mr Abdullahi who spoke when he played host to the Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Jamilu Sarharm, and the management team of the Academy said the administration has come up with initiatives that are repositioning ICT to play a critical role in the diversification of the nation’s economy.
He said Nigeria is lucky to have started putting out measures aimed at promoting digital economy prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
He recalled that the redesignation of the Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the unveiling of Digital Economy Strategies and Planning and the Digital Nigeria project, “which focuses on digital capacity building and digital literacy, will go a long way in reshaping Nigeria’s economy in the post-pandemic era.”
“These initiatives have helped because they are emerging globally and in Nigeria, what we have learnt from the pandemic or the crisis just made them profound and we are all embracing digital technologies.”
Mr Abdullahi said, “a lot of things are going to change. We are not going to go back to normal life. In terms of businesses, some will close down and new opportunities will come. So we don’t want to be left behind. We want to be part of the people shaping the new normal we are currently facing.”
He admonished people to explore the opportunities the crisis has provided to accelerate the trend that will shape the digital economy. Mr Abdullahi reiterated the need for people to acquire requisite skills needed for digital economy.
“When we talk about digital economy, we are talking about knowledge economy which human capital is a key enabler because knowledge is what influences the digital economy.”
Citing example of how 25 people became the richest people in the world and made $255 billion within two months of the global lockdown, the DG affirmed the power of knowledge.
He said NITDA gives good attention to capacity building and collaborates with universities to produce the right skills needed for the digital world.
He added the MIT REAP project of the ministry identified five key stakeholders which the university is part of. He said the idea is for the corporate world to work with the university system to produce the right skills needed for digital economy.
Earlier, Mr Sarharm, a major general, said the NDA management had resolved to approach NITDA for assistance in terms of e-learning and capacity building.
He said the management thought there is need to pay a courtesy visit to NITDA and seek collaboration in various areas notably in the area of ICT intervention for the Academy.
“The NDA has over 2000 cadets and things are changing and affecting modes of learning especially during the lockdown adding that the whole world is now driven by ICT, we want to engage in online training for our cadets.”
He said “we can’t wait any longer than to come around here basically to seek collaboration and more importantly seek for assistance and expertise.”
The DG assured that special consideration would be given to the requests.
He said “I have looked at your prayers even though you are not specific of what you really want from NITDA but you talked about e-learning, capacity building and ICT infrastructure. We do all these as interventions and we will see what we can do now and those we can plan for next year.”