As Nigeria moves towards diversifying its economy using technology, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has proposed partnership with Republic of Namibia in the areas of Innovations and Entrepreneurship through African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
This is because Africa as a continent lost out during the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolutions due to the huge capital investments but with the Fourth Industrial Revolutions come endless opportunities that all it needs is talent and vibrant, young technological driven generation. It is therefore imperative for African countries to encourage “Made in Africa” products by exploring and exploiting opportunities provided by emerging technologies to build an enviable global market standard.
The agreement in finding a viable route for digital trade resolution was made when the High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria and Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Mr Humphrey D Geiseh paid a courtesy visit to the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters, Abuja at the weekend.
According to a statement issued by the spokesperson of NITDA, Hadiza Umar, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi the Director General of the agency, told the Namibian Envoy that the agency has been implementing the National IT Policy until 2019 when the Ministry’s mandate was expanded to cover Digital Economy. He averred that this was because Communications was not an end but a means to an end.
He said it was important to calibrate activities and align them with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which necessitated the Agency to come up with a new Strategic Road Map and Action Plan.
The DG stated that ‘Emerging Technologies’ which is a strategic pillar in the road map should be used to create and capture technological values in Africa.
“These emerging technologies come with promises and perils and the Agency’s focus is to avoid the perils and achieve the promises”, he noted.
He disclosed that the Agency established the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics specifically for researching best ways to apply these technologies in the Health and Agricultural sector just to mention a few. “I will invite you to visit our Centre as well and see how you can borrow some of the ideas and domesticate it in Namibia”, Abdullahi said.
The DG mentioned that “Promoting Indigenous and Local Content, which is another strategic pillar of the Agency is aimed at supporting local start-ups and encouraging Made in Africa products.
He opined that African countries should share experiences and ideas in order to build world class product while laying emphasis that it is easier to procure products from neighbouring countries rather than other continents.
“Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country provide about 95% of the workforce and produce more than 50% of the Nation’s GDP. It is therefore necessary to ignite processes in the digital ecosystem with the use of technology.
“Innovations don’t happen in isolation, you need to connect with what others are doing in other parts of the world and apply them domestically to create wealth for the Nation and the continent at large”, Abdullahi noted.
The DG said that Agriculture, which is one of the major sources of income in Namibia is one of the areas the Agency identified in which technology can be used as a game changer. He stated that the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture, (NAVSA) which is one of the initiatives of the Agency can help Namibia boost her productivity in Agriculture. “This is an area we can explore partnership where we can get some startups who can develop solutions for you and on our part, also learn how you manage your agricultural business.”
“NITDA has a yearly flagship programme called ‘e-Nigeria’, an international conference and exhibition programme where local start-ups are invited to showcase their products, and this year’s programme would be tagged ‘Digital Nigeria’ because of the evolution from electronic to digital system.”
Mr Geiseh in his earlier remark said that Namibia and Nigeria are both African countries who have been long standing friends since Namibia’s independence.
He disclosed that Namibia has a population of about 2.4 million and almost one-third of her population are internet users according to statistics as of 2018.
He mentioned that the country is committed to providing necessary opportunities for the youth to be exposed to concepts and technologies that will dominate their lives in the near future.
“In Namibia, we recognise the role of the youths in the development of the country in the future prosperity of the Nation which has prompted our visit today to basically know how your agency has advanced in the areas of ICT so we can identify common challenges and proffer solutions in areas where both countries can work together”, the High Commissioner disclosed.