By Juliet Umeh
Despite the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, sector added 1 percent of its contribution to the Nigerian’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP in the first quarter of 2020.
The latest development brought ICT contribution to GDP to 14 percent growth from its previous contribution of 13.12 percent in the previous quarter.
The Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who was impressed with the latest addition said people relied more on digital platforms during the lockdown and that led to the migration of most activities from physical to virtual platforms.
Speaking at the international webinar meeting organized by the Information Technology (Industry) Association Nigeria (ITAN) Kano and Abuja Chapters, Abdullahi said, NITDA, as the agency with the responsibility to oversee the IT sector, is at the forefront of creating initiatives and schemes to mitigate the effect of theCOVID-19 pandemic on the country’s ICT sector, particularly the startup ecosystem.
He noted that NITDA, with its two special purpose vehicles– The Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) and the Office for Nigerian Content in ICT (ONC) is working hard at achieving their mandates of fostering the growth of technology Startup ecosystem and ensuring patronage of local content in ICT.
Some of these initiatives, according to him, include Work Permit for Technology Startups during lockdown; The Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, where three startups with the following solutions: locally made ventilator, decontamination chamber and e-Health monitor Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (TIESS) emerged winners.
The three winners have the following schemes; Incubation Programme; Technical Capacity Building, Internship Programme and Hub Upscaling.
These schemes, according to him, were designed to target various aspects for the ecosystems to achieve maximum positive effect on the ICT ecosystem.
Another programme in the pipeline is Startup Workspace Voucher programme aimed at supporting young startups to overcome their financial challenges.
While thanking the organisers of the Webinar event, the NITDA boss said: “We at NITDA believe that with strategic partnership and collaborations with stakeholders, we can build a new Nigeria with a robust digital economy.”
Participants at the event include, the Executive Governor of Kano State, DrAbdullahi Ganduje, the Minister of the FCT, Malam Musa Bello, who were both co –hosts.
Other international participants and presenters at the webinar were: Ahmad Hashim,CEO of Pen Test Digital Services, Engineer Titus Olowokere, based in Atlanta, Georgia ,US, Dr Amado Espinosa, US-based, Professor SouMita Dutta of Cornell University, US, and Professor AbdullahiAdamu, Vice Chancellor of the National Open University, Abuja.