By Ogaga Ariemu
As part of efforts to battle coronavirus, Director General National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Abdullahi, has pledged support to technology community with required innovation, enabling environment to hack COVID-19 pandemic out of Nigeria.
Mr Abdullahi made this known at the weekend during his speech via Skype at the opening ceremony of a Hackathon event put together by ‘100 women in ICT’ with the theme: ‘Hack the Crisis in Nigeria’.
“Hack the crisis project is aimed at launching a prototype solutions, ideas and innovations into products and initiatives that will not only create awareness in multiple languages about covid-19 but will also help prevent and/or flatten the curve of covid-19 in Nigeria through digital innovation,” the DG said.
He urged participants to come up with innovative ideas that can help the nation contain and mitigate this pandemic as well as look at how we can use these ideas to survive and thrive in the post pandemic world. “We need to hack the crisis and we need to do it ourselves. We need to make a tailor made solutions that can work in our country”, he stated.
The DG hinted that the Agency is looking at organizing a National Innovation Challenge, where it can identify some innovative ideas, incubate them and ensure they are implemented in some sectors, especially the health sector and the digital economy in general. He further said that he personally encouraged and supported the Hackathon because the theme is apt, and the problem statement is relevant to what is happening in the world today.
Mr Kashifu said he look forward to a promising result from this Hackathon to help mitigate the effect of this pandemic. “NITDA is looking at incubating some of the innovation to create value and prosperity as we exit from the crisis which is in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, resolve to diversify our economy and lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. It is also in consistent with the agency’s supervising ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy’s ‘national digital economy strategy’ which focused on digital job creation and the use of emerging technologies to create value, wealth and prosperity for our young generation.
“Today we are confronted by a crisis like no other. Corona virus, also known as covid-19 has disrupted our social and economic order within a short time. The virus is causing health crisis while the lockdown needed to fight the virus is causing economic crises. What was normal just few weeks ago, such as going to work, religious congregation and socializing with family and friends, is now a huge risk” the DG noted.
He added that the virus dictates and is still in control. It dictates when to shutdown, lockdown and relaxes. He argued that we will likely continue this way until there is breakthrough in vaccine but until then, life will not return to normal because humans have natural aversion for exposing themselves to diseases.
“The good news is we have created a sense of stability from the crisis that is why we are here thinking on how to hack the crisis, unlocking hidden opportunities and silver lining in the covid-19 period,” Mr Kashifu said.
He further argued that Post covid-19 world would be created and shaped by our exit and recovery strategy from the crisis. We need to unlearn the way we do things in the pre-covid-19 world and learn the new way to survive and thrive in the post-covid-19 world. We need solutions to mitigate and contain the virus. He said since it has been proven that contact tracing is the most effective containment measures, then emerging technology will be the most effective tool for that.
In Pre-covid-19, ICT dominated the world economy. Over 40 percent of one hundred most valuable brands in the world are digital companies, as well as the top five on the list. Many businesses were going digital but with some level of resistance. Meanwhile, in post pandemic era, the world will be forced into the fourth Industrial revolution where everything will be digitalized, the DG concluded.