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Nigeria has huge youth population to develop smart initiatives — NITDA

Nigeria has huge youth population which the country can leverage on to develop smart initiatives for data economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says.

Pantami made the remark during presentation of the draft “Nigeria Smart Initiatives Policy Framework (NSIPF)”

to stakeholders in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that developed nations of the world were presently moving toward smart initiatives to develop

their economies, stressing that the move was more sustainable than income generating measures from diverse sectors.

He added that NITDA came up with the draft and asked stakeholders to make input with the hope of making it a policy,

noting that the implementation process depended on stakeholders’ efforts.

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The director general said that the draft would ensure the implementation of Nigeria Smart Initiative (NSI) which could

provide platforms for Research and Development, creation of awareness on the potential opportunities of smart initiatives in Nigeria,

among other provisions.

He explained that “smart initiatives are inevitable and looking at our population, our digital literacy level and commitment to

ICT promotion and adoption, now is the best time to leverage on that development.

“Smart initiative is about automating our activities and making sure that human influence is minimal, activities are more inclined to

digital ways to save time, improve accuracy and reduce cost.

“Youths are naturally digital and our population is majorly the youth, which we can leverage on to develop the initiative,

unlike other countries where there is aging problem.”

The NITDA boss said that digitisation could lead to few loss of jobs, but what was lost could be highly gained if people adapt to the digital age.

“Digital economy is just compelling people to learn ICT so that they can take over the new jobs that can be created.”

Pantami added that Executive Orders 003 and 005 were critical to developing smart initiatives through leveraging on expertise and indigenous contents.

He acknowledged that funding, infrastructure, resources, standards, architecture, interoperability, insecurity challenges could limit

the efforts but it was important stakeholders synergised to face them.

He recalled that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommended that Nigeria should make conscious efforts to improve investments

in the technology industry to emerge among economies of the world.

According to him, it is time to have home-grown smart initiatives as integral part of the country’s development agenda to

help the society to be more responsive to needs in critical sectors.

Dr Agbali Mohammed from the e-Government Development and Regulation department of NITDA, said that the draft had strategic

pillars which included governance, environment, security and economy.

Mohammed said that foreign direct investment was required to address national issues before the smart initiatives could work.

Mr Lukman Lamid, a staff of the agency who spoke on “Framework and Governance Structure for NSI,” said Nigeria had its

peculiarities in achieving smart initiatives.

Lamid added that the framework was aimed at Private-Public Partnership, engaging high investment in smart technologies, as well as

investment in data economy that could transcend to digital economy.

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He said “we conducted a research recently and discovered that there are peculiar industries that need urgent attention in developing

smart initiative strategy for implementation of the framework.

“We are looking at agriculture, e-health, oil and gas, and the issue of identity which is very critical to us so that we can provide the

right services the country wants to achieve.

“We have a 10-year strategy which we hope a huge investment would have been made in that line. We hope that development partners,

private sector invests in our country’s digital economy and ensure we benefit from data economy.”

He added that NITDA was embarking on smart agriculture project called — “Adopted Village” that could aid precision agriculture

and connect stakeholders through smart platforms and serve as drivers for connecting agric value chain and economic growth. (NAN)