By Lere Ojedokun
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in the pursuit of its vast mandates that focus on fostering the development and growth of Information Technology (IT) in Nigeria, has different activities running to proactively facilitate the development of the nation into a sustainable digital economy.
The agency, which acknowledges that the information and communication sector is growing and creating thousands of new jobs every year and providing opportunities for development, has an all-inclusive ICT capacity- building intervention for different segments including executives, People With Disabilities (PWD), women, even as children are not left out in the digital literacy plan. In September, over 300 children were graduated by NITDA from the STEM Bootcamp for children in Lagos.
Director General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, at the graduation ceremony, said the programme was aimed at bridging the gap that currently exists in the educational sector, adding that it resonates deeply with the ongoing efforts toward implementing the National Digital Economy Policy for digital Nigeria.
Moreover, during the Nigeria Computer Society’s (NCS) courtesy call on NITDA DG, where the society presented a ‘Proud Ambassador’ award to the DG for his outstanding leadership, Abdullahi assured that NITDA has an ambitious target of making Nigeria a start-up nation and to train one million programmers between now and next year to achieve 95 per cent digital literacy in Nigeria by the year 2030.
He was quoted to have said, “We believe we cannot succeed in isolation. That is why we collaborate with organisations like yours.”
Meanwhile, as NITDA’s numerous works are commendable, it will be suggested the agency looks more in the way of partnering e-commerce firms with existing presence in some underserved areas especially in the South West region, to deepen its efforts and fasten the realisation of the 95 per cent digital literacy goal in Nigeria by the year 2030.
These e-commerce firms contribute immensely in human capital development. For example, Alerzo, a business-to-business (B2B) firm, founded in Ibadan, Oyo State in 2019 and has spread across the nation, has invested heavily in its over 150,000 informal retailers as part of its efforts in driving the nation’s digital economy.
At a recent media parley, Alerzo’s Group CEO, Adewale Opaleye, stressed the need for partnership, while saying that the firm embraces technology to solve the challenges informal retailers face.
He did mention that the firm developed its entire infrastructure from the scratch, including its over 40 warehouses and over 400 vehicles for fast and timely delivery.
Opaleye said Alerzo has foot soldiers who through the infrastructures created go from shop to shop teaching informal retailers how to download apps, register on the apps, know what to click, how to select products, how to check out and operate the Veedez bookkeeping app. Adding that as an organisation, Alerzo delights in helping informal retailers adopt digital innovations in operating profitable businesses even as they are equipped with skills of the future.
Recalling, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), while recently applauding consistent growth in ICT contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which hit 17.92 per cent in the last quarter of 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021, assured of the Federal Government’s commitment to the development of a robust digital economy.
However, as the government invests in ICT and pushes for less dependency on oil to boost the economy of Nigeria, there is hope that the collaboration of NITDA, Alerzo and other e-commerce firms particularly in the South West will further impact on the socio-economic development of the region and by extension the nation and continent.
Ojedokun, a development and policy advocate, contributes this piece from Lagos.