Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), as given a nod to the call for proposals to support the establishment of Digital Innovation Hubs in Nigeria.
He made this known while delivering a keynote address on the topic “Public, Private Partnerships: Drivers of Digital Innovation in Nigeria’’ at the formal launch of the initiative by the Digital Transformation Centre (DTC) of the German International Cooperation (GIZ).
Represented by Barrister Chioma Oke-Aguguo, the Lagos Office Head of the Agency, Inuwa commended the German International Cooperation (GIZ), for the laudable initiative, noting that the idea is aimed at engaging stakeholders in the Nigerian innovation ecosystem, helping them to understand the Digital Innovation Hub concept, and generating interest from prospective entrepreneurs and innovators.
He averred that it is only through initiatives like the one proposed that the nation’s startup businesses will be able to emerge from the pandemic and grow into globally competitive companies.
The Director-General assured that as the apex regulator of the Information Technology (IT) sector in Nigeria, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) will always appreciate and identify with every initiative aimed at boosting the growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Digital innovation hubs are the surest way to help lift Nigerians out of poverty and support the government in its economic diversification efforts, through the creation or more Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs)”, Inuwa maintained.
The NITDA Boss affirmed that since 2020, the Nigerian government has invested heavily to provide the much-needed digital infrastructure, digital services and platforms, as well as digital literacy and skills for all citizens, towards transforming the country into a world-class digital economy.
“This digital transformation has enabled rapid development across the country, positively impacting virtually all sectors of the economy, which has resulted in higher performance and efficiency, creation of new digital jobs and indigenous IT innovations, and has boosted economic growth in the country with an unprecedented GDP contribution, by the ICT sector, of 18.4% in the 2nd Quarter of 2022”, the DG recalled.
As Nigeria continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the DG said that it is evident that the successes recorded from the rigorous implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) must be sustained, adding that to achieve this, public-private partnerships (PPPs) will ultimately play a critical role in accelerating Nigeria’s digital economic transformation.
“PPPs are critical instruments for innovation in all sectors of the economy; they help governments become more inventive by creating a space outside the government structure that allows innovation to flourish.”
“They also help to inject a broader set of skills and talents, as well as a more diligent and responsive work culture into the government machinery and to create a solid foundation for innovative thinking and creativity”, the DG explained.
He further explained that according to “the World Bank, PPPs are a mechanism for the government to procure and implement public infrastructure and/or services using the resources and expertise of the private sector; Where governments are facing aging or lack of infrastructure and require more efficient services, a partnership with the private sector can help foster new solutions and bring finance.”
“PPPs combine the skills and resources of both the public and private sectors through sharing of risks and responsibilities. This enables governments to benefit from the expertise of the private sector and allows them to focus instead on policy, planning, and regulation by delegating day-to-day operations”, the Director-General stressed.
Inuwa made it known that almost every State has embraced the technological trend and provided its residents with facilities to advance their technical development, adding that many of such hubs are privately held, while others are supported by the Nigerian government through various Federal agencies and programmes meant to develop the Nigerian tech sector.
According to the DG, “the engagement of PPPs in Nigeria will require an enabling environment for dedicated public and private sector champions that address the challenges of digital infrastructure development head-on”.
“The Nigeria Public-Private Partnership Network (NPPPN) was established in 2011 through collaboration between the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Lagos State Public Private Partnership (PPP) office, and the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) to create a platform for all States (sub-nationals), Heads of PPP Units nationwide under the Chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.”
The Public Private Partnership Units Consultative Forum (3PUCF) was also established in 2013 as a forum designed to provide a platform for Heads of PPP Units in Federal MDAs for knowledge and experience sharing; ensuring symmetry of effort towards institutionalizing FGN PPP programme, provision of training and educational intervention among others, and meets quarterly,’ under the Chairmanship of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. ICRC also acts as the Secretariat”, Inuwa said.
The NITDA Boss avowed that the conceptualization, formulation, and passage of the Nigeria Startups Bill (NSB) is a unique outcome of the private and public partnership comprising all the key stakeholders from the government and private sector players.
He reiterated NITDA’s commitment towards being open to work with private sector partners that are committed to the development of digital innovation hubs in order to help further and expand the tech innovation ecosystem in Nigeria.
“The Agency will never relent in its avowed determination to continue supporting initiatives aimed at helping startups to innovate and develop more innovation-driven and globally scalable businesses”.
“Through innovations and investments, the Nigerian economy can harness digital data and new technologies, generate new content, link individuals with markets and government services, and roll out new, sustainable business models”, Inuwa advised.
He urged all relevant stakeholders in Nigeria’s digital innovation ecosystem to step up and join the organizers to develop infrastructure to help lift the country’s innovation-driven enterprises to higher levels of prosperity and economic stability.
“Digital technologies will spur innovation, efficiency, and productivity, and as a result will create mass jobs, bring about choice and opportunities for greater growth and inclusion”, Inuwa assured.