The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, has applauded Cisco and its partner, TD Africa, a leading provider of technology solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa for building a state-of-the-art Edge (Experience, Design, Go To Market, Earn) Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.
Inuwa who gave the commendation at the official launch of the centre, noted that the initiative which is one out of many under the MOU is a top priority for the current administration under President Bola Tinubu’s renewed hope agenda, maintaining that it is going to provide Nigerian citizens, especially the startup to come, and experience the latest technology housed in a conducive environment for them to design and build their prototypes, as well as have access to mentorship programmes and experts to take their products to the market in order to earn money from it.
Inuwa harped on the need to prioritise talent, skills and youthful population, which he stressed are major resources in the digital economy.
“This is all that we need as a country because we need to start asking ourselves some pertinent questions like: ‘How can we grow our GDP? How can we empower our citizens with technology, skills, and innovation?…These are the currencies of the digital economy and the future of work”.
“Yes, in Africa, we have our challenges, we don’t have the technology, but we have the talent”, Inuwa emphasised.
The DG further reiterated that as a country, the greatest resources is not the oil the Nation has, but its talents, adding that “most of the big companies are riding over this talent, even the rest of the world needs the talent to develop their technology. So, it’s a Yin and Yan situation between talent and technology because talent is the people component of technology”.
“Our youthful population is a competitive advantage for us as a country and as a continent because according to Korn Ferry, by 2030, there would be 85 million talent deficits globally, which will result in about 8.5 trillion U.S. dollars and realized annual value. So, Nigeria can position itself through this kind of initiative to be part of the Oak to help bridge that gap and earn from these unrealised annual revenues”, the DG urged.
The NITDA Boss who pleasantly mentioned that the relationship with Cisco has come a long way, said that NITDA academy started the same year Cisco came to Nigeria in 2002, and by 2007 NITDA had become a regional centre, as the Agency had helped establish 22 Cisco academies across the country and within that, trained more than 80,000 Nigerians in different areas.
“I started the academy at NITDA in 2007; I’m a living witness to Cisco’s impact, especially as I started my career with Cisco and the Cisco certification helped me to leapfrog in my career because when I earned my CCIE, it also helped me to get more than a 150% salary increment, and helped me accelerate my career progression”.
“So, I believe this kind of tech has the same opportunity, if not more, it can help us build our economy and be part of the global digital economy as well. This aligned perfectly well with the national digital economy policy and strategy, where we talk about building skills, and developing the infrastructure and talent”, Inuwa said.
According to Inuwa, under the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NITDA has an ambitious target of achieving 95% digital literacy by 2030 that can help the world not only Nigeria, noting that when a country has digitally literate population, it will help increase the use of digital platforms.
“Today your company is as good as its next product or the platform it has and that platform is as good as the number of users, that is what will even help in evaluation”.
“If we have digitally literate Nigerians, the largest population in Africa and one of the youngest in the world now will have all the big techs to benefit globally and you know that will translate to adding to the number of users the country has”, Inuwa averred.
Inuwa challenged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which he said is contributing more than 48% to the Nation’s GDP, employing about 61 million Nigerians which represent about 87.6% of the workforce in the country and represents about 97% of businesses in Nigeria to avail themselves the opportunity to explore and innovate at Edge.
“SMEs, you are the backbone of our economy, this centre will help our SMEs to even evolve into IDEs because you start by providing local solutions and grow to the global market to become Innovation-driven enterprises”.
“We have a promise that we are going to have the Abuja Aid Centre very soon and we hope to expand it to other parts of the country as well. So, together we can build the ecosystem, help Nigeria grow its economy, and create value for you”, the Director-General assured.
Located at Yudala Technology Experience Centre, the hub functions as an incubator, providing small and medium businesses with state-of-the-art Cisco communication and collaboration technology, alongside with training and enablement programs.
Additionally, SMEs will be able to connect with global Cisco experts, who can help them develop business ideas and concepts in a digital world.
The launch, the Director-General said is the fruit the long standing collaboration with Cisco, given the fact that on the 16th of May this year in Paris, the Agency signed an MOU with the Cisco Networking Academy Global Initiative Programme which brought about the CDA implementation, adding that few weeks ago both parties were in Abuja envisioning how we to work together to implement the MOU.
“We believe you are going to play an important part in the quest towards achieving our ambitious target of 95% digital literacy, building the talent we have as well as our initiative on training 1 million developers because we believe talent or brain export is going to be the optimal way for the growth of the Nigerian economy”, Inuwa noted.
Highpoint of the event was the formal inauguration of the Edge Centre where the DG joined Consul General of U.S Consulate in Lagos, Mr Will Stevens; Dr. Guy Diedrich, Senior Vice President, and the Global Innovation Officer of Cisco and Fran Katsoudas in carrying out the exercise.