By Stanley Iwuoha
The Federal Government says its primary objective in building the pioneer National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre is to create an atmosphere that would usher in innovation driven culture among the Nigerian populace.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami made the call at the ground breaking ceremony of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, Abuja.
The minister said the Centre is critical for our journey to digital economy, because it will play a huge role in creating value and prosperity among the people.
As a very important initiative to the digital economy transformation agenda,he assured that the Centre would be replicated at least in the Six Geo-Political zones of the country, beginning with the pioneer Centre in the FCT, Abuja to take it closer to the people.
‘‘Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship are globally recognized as two prerequisites for achieving an indigenous Digital Economy. As such, a successful digital innovation and entrepreneurship programme will support us in the development of our digital economy and this is exactly what we want this Centre aims to achieve.
‘‘Today’s event is critical for our journey to digital economy, because in digital economy innovation and entrepreneurship play a huge role in creating value and prosperity. That is why we are investing in this initiative.
‘‘Our journey started in October 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari re-designated and expanded the mandate of our ministry to cover digital economy. The speed at which we move is amazing and our achievements so far are encouraging.
‘‘Today Digital Economy is the fastest growing economy in Nigeria and in World in general. To sustain and consolidate the growth we need to ignite innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital space. COVID-19 has impacted our lives in an unprecedented way, many aspects of our live – work, education, economy, entertainment, have moved online.
Pantami, said in building the Centre the government was not in any way trying to undermine certificates but trying to redirect people towards soft skills which are the in-thing.
He therefore enjoined states and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to key into the establishment of ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship parks to address unemployment and other social challenges in Nigeria.
He said this has become necessary to complement the present administration’s resolve to diversify National Economy and generate employment and wealth for the country.
Dr. Pantami who listed the benefits of the Centre, argued that the economic challenges facing Nigeria provide opportunities for the people to embrace digital platforms for self empowerment.
Pantami said : “Mr President approved the building of this Centre on the 11th of November 2020, during the Federal Executive Council meeting.
“Prior to that, I made a detailed presentation to Council on the project and successfully answered around 22 questions in the robust debate that followed the presentation.
“The idea received overwhelming support of the Federal Executive Council because of the huge positive impact it can have on the lives of Nigerians.”
According to Pantami Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship are globally recognized as two prerequisites for achieving an indigenous Digital Economy.
“As such, a successful digital innovation and entrepreneurship programme will support us in the development of our digital economy and this is exactly what this Centre aims to achieve,” he added.
Pantami said the growth of the sector resulted in an increased contribution of ICT to Nigeria’s GDP at a value of 17.83% in Q2 ‘2020, adding that broadband penetration also peaked at 45 percent in November last year.
The Minister said ” the groundbreaking ceremony of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre is another giant leap towards the development of our digital economy and diversification of our country’s economy.
According to him, the Centre will be based on the ‘live, work and learn’ concept.
Earlier in his address, the Director General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, said the objective of the Centre is to serve as a catalyst for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship among both the public and private sector organisations as well as the academia; fostering development in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Quantum Computing and Smart Energy Solutions to drive ICT; provision of enabling environment for technology startups to accelerate and experience innovations at scale; fostering the development indigenous businesses to become world class service providers; provision of enabling environment for the promotion of advanced and applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT); and facilitating the recognition and encouragement of indigenous innovation in emerging technologies.
Some of the facilities at the Centre include: Co-Working Space (Hacker space /Maker space); Business Research and Innovation Space; Information Technology (IT) Museum; Media Studio Smart Data Centre, Network Operation Centre (NOC), Smart Automation and R&D Hi-tech showrooms among others.