At Blockchain Summit, NITDA DG Urges Youths to Upscale Talents for National Development

By Dwelleth Morountodun

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, on Friday expressed the agency’s commitment to creating a stimulating ecosystem for Blockchain technology that will assist Nigerian innovators to thrive.

Inuwa, reiterated the agency’s stance on emerging technologies during the 2022 Blockchain Developers’ Summit held in Abuja.

While speaking on “Blockchain Technology Supports Digital Transformation, he said the technology will facilitate the development of Nigeria into a Digital Economy” to the over one thousand five hundred participants, Inuwa enumerated the multiple benefits and prospects of the technology

The NITDA DG highlighted “trust” as one of the critical components of Blockchain. “There are a lot of opportunities in Blockchain and it is critical in every business, he noted.

He encouraged the participants who were mostly Youth Corp Members to upscale their talents and contribute their quota towards nation building. 

“Talent is the human component of technology. When you talk about any innovations, especially Blockchain and emerging technologies, it is about the new solutions one is bringing onboard, so you need to task yourself to know which solutions or offerings the industry requires”, Inuwa advised. 

Inuwa, who stressed the fact that anybody can be an innovator or entrepreneur, irrespective of their academic standing, religion, and ethnic group, as innovative ideas cannot be monopolized, averred that the time for Nigerian youths to leverage on the growing digital sector to tackle the myriad of challenges facing the nation is now.

“Innovation is beyond invention, it needs to get to the point of commercialization. Until you can pitch your idea to someone to pay for your solutions, the innovation would sadly only be just an idea. So, we are building an ecosystem that will enable you to hatch your ideas from conception to realization”, the DG said. 

The NITDA Boss also emphasised on the need for the participants to have venture capitalists who would invest in their innovative ideas.

He further noted that although the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration has exhibited a strong political will to continually make the right policies and create an enabling environment for tech innovation ecosystem to succeed, the Federal Government however, cannot possibly give out grants or seed funds to everyone at the same time, hence, the need for them to engage with both local and International. investors.

Inuwa, recalled that in 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari renamed and expanded the mandate of the Ministry to cover digital economy which has necessitated the now Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to create value, wealth and prosperity via the digital economy. 

The DG again recalled that in the same year, the President unveiled the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria which was formulated by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami. 

The policy, he affirmed has eight pillars, one of which is Digital Society and Emerging Technologies; an apparently related subject matter: “All paralstatals under the Ministry have keyed into implementing the policy, NITDA inclusive”. Inuwa maintained. 

On the part of NITDA, the Director-General seized the opportunity to enlighten the crowd that the Agency had developed a Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) in line with the policy, which has seven pillars with three of them, such as Digital Transformation, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Emerging Technologies directly addressing the theme of the summit.

“We have so many initiatives: Under “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, we established the National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR); The Office of the Nigerian Digital Innovation which works with the ecosystem to help come up with policies that will enable you thrive in what you do”, the DG recounted. 

The DG also mention other initiatives, including iHatch, Digital Fabrication Lab, TIE (Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship) Support Scheme which he said identifies people with promising ideas and places them in IT hubs across the country for training as well as help turn their ideas into realities. 

“We developed the blockchain adoption strategy basically to help stimulate the adoption of blockchain in the country and we have identified six initiatives we are going to implement to achieve that; firstly is to establish the Nigerian Blockchain Consortium which this summit is helping to do that; Secondly, is to strengthen developmental regulation and law; Find focus areas; Promoting Literacy and Blockchain; Digital Innovation Incentivization and the Startup Bill which has passed through the third reading in the National Assembly”, Inuwa added.

Inuwa, charged the Youth Corps members to take advantage of the opportunity and start a business before the end of their service year and possibly always ensure to be among the first movers in any digital related endeavours. 

He expressed the hope that participants at the summit which was themed: “Stimulating Blockchain Adoption in Nigeria”, organised by BSV-Blockchain at Base University, and powered by NITDA would make relevant contributions to the Adoption Strategies which he said is dynamic and open to new ideas.

Other speakers including the National coordinator, National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), Eng. Ya’u Garba and some International Inventors alluded to the promising future that awaits Nigeria upon the successful adoption of the tech.

Meanwhile, the DG also inaugurated the Baze AI/Blockchain laboratory in company of some international innovators.

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