NITDA seeks NCC collaboration for 50% GDP growth

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

In line with Federal Government’s determination to diversify the economy from oil, the acting Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Vincent Olatunji is seeking the collaboration of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to develop the information communications technology (ICT) industry to enable it to contribute about 50 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

To consolidate on the collaboration, the two agencies agreed to set up an eight-man committee to work and submit report towards the integration process and the way forward in order to enhance semaless delivery and non-duplication of services being rendered to the public within two weeks.

The Ag DG, who spoke when he led the management of the agency on a working visit to the NCC Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Prof Umar Dambatta in Abuja, said the visit had become imperative in view of President Muhammadu Buahri led administration to diversify the economy, adding that it would allow the two agencies to explore areas of mutual collaboration.

He said ICT was one of the few options government had to diversify the economy and build capacity using ICT to improve productivity and service delivery as the realities of the global economy take its toll on the country.

Olatunji said NITDA is the IT regulatory body that oversees the overall development of the ICT industry in Nigeria for steady growth; to increase the integration of ICTs across all sectors and under-served communities in a manner that supports economic diversification while achieving growth, job and wealth creation.

He told Prof Dambatta that since its inception, it had embarked on a number of programmes to drive inclusive development across rural and under-served communities by expanding the reach of IT to these communities.

Such programs include increase in access to the knowledge, content and information through ICT tools, creating jobs and wealth among the youths, bridging the digital divide between urban and rural dwellers, youth empowerment, expanding and deepening IT knowledge frontier in the country.

He said NITDA had identified the challenges of ICT and the need for multi stakeholder partnership to brainstorm and formulate policies to drive the sector. He said the agency has two platforms for bringing stakeholders together to brainstorm. These are the Annual eNigeria Conference and the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) which takes place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He said the agency had set up the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) and Office of Nigerian Content in ICT to accelerate the push for an all-encompassing development.

Responding, Prof. Danbatta affirmed the willingness of NCC to collaborate with NITDA towards effective and efficient service delivery to the public in the areas of job creation in ICT as economic cash cow of the country.

He stressed the need to work to achieve pervasive ICT penetration in line with the mandates of the two agencies.

Danbatta's NCC mandate with that of NITDA, if pursued with vigour, would lead to rapid transformation of the ICT sector especially now that oil revenues had fallen beyond imagination, he said.

According to NITDA Head, Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Hadiza Umar, Dr Olatunji said the management of NITDA is open to various ways of inter-agency collaboration to meet the yearnings and aspiration of Nigerians for better service delivery in the IT industry which telecoms plays a major role, adding that, if broadband penetration is available with other IT infrastructure, service delivery will improve and the its impact on other sectors of the economy will increase the GDP. He therefore stressed the need for NCC and NITDA to work harmoniously to achieve economic transformation.

The meeting identified possible areas of collaboration between to two agencies to include the review of the National ICT4D Policy; Smart City Initiatives and Capacity Building for Startups for university graduates.

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