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2023 elections: FG assures EU EOM of safety of digital space



By Ibiyemi Mathew

The Federal Government of Nigeria has reassured the European Union European Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) and other relevant stakeholders of the safety of the digital space to ensure the success of the forthcoming General Election.

This was contained in a statement by the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, while receiving the European Election Observation Mission EU EOM, headed by Marek Mbracka, a Social Media Analyst, at his office in Abuja.

“With all eyes set towards the upcoming 2023 General Elections in Nigeria, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, is working assiduously to ensure the development and total adoption of a digital economy through the implementation of the National Information Technology Development Agency’s (NITDA), Strategic RoadMap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021-2024) anchored on seven strategic pillars, with Cyber Security as a prominent pillar,” Kashifu said.

According to the Director General, “ensuring a safe digital space would, among other functions, promote a seamless electoral process.”

Speaking further, Inuwa elaborated that it is within the mandate of NITDA to establish Standards, Guidelines, and Frameworks for the Development, Standardization, and Regulation of Information Technology practices in Nigeria.

“At NITDA, we started looking at how we can optimally use technology because technology is a double-edged sword that has its potentials and pitfalls. How can we harness the potentials while avoiding the perils?” he queried.

The Code of Practice COP for Internet Service Provider ISP bill was a fallout of the attempt to ensure that anything that is illegal offline is illegal online. Other attempts are already in motion towards the developments of some regulations like; the Digital Market Act, Digital Services Act, GDPR, and many more similar Acts that are usable and applicable in ensuring the safe use of the social media, he said.

Speaking further, he disclosed some details on the contents of the Code of Practice bill, noting that information has been categorised into four; lawful, lawful but harmful, unlawful, and unlawful and harmful. To this end, the law enforcement agencies have been updated on how to report any crime committed, and how to get help from the big tech to address that issue.

He explained that the code of practice bill has five major objectives: firstly, to increase competition, secondly, improve accountability, thirdly, safeguard privacy, fourthly, protect democracy and lastly, but not the least, transform governance itself.

The DG narrated how he had a conversation with some group of attendees at the Digital Life Designing Conference (DLDC) in Germany, where some attendees argued for and against Europe being a superpower or not? Some based their arguments on Europe’s economic and military superpower, but he opined that Europe is a superpower when it comes to regulation.

“Everybody looks towards the Brussel effect when it comes to regulation,” affirming that standards are set through “regulation”.

He stated further that the Information Technology revolution has overridden the yester years superpower, “not even the political superpower”. While elaborating on his ideas, he said that in today’s world, some high-net-worth Technology Industries CEOs are more powerful than some nation’s presidents because they are armed with powerful information that can be used to manipulate or control sovereign nations.

Inuwa advised that the Nigerian’s perception must be refocused from being a consumer of products and services offered by technology to harnessing of the attributing qualities of today’s technological advancements and innovations, especially towards the promotion of a free and fair election processes.

“As at today, NITDA is currently in collaboration with certified fact checkers in the country, but we need more because in Nigeria we have over 300 languages, therefore a real need for more major fact checkers.”

The EU is a globally recognized and credible actor in international election observation. Since 2003, the EU has been deploying Election Observation Missions (EOMs) to observe all the general election processes in Nigeria.

Marek Mracka, the Head of the team that visited NITDA was excited about NITDA’s active Website and presence on the social media and encourages same tempo across all other Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

In response Barr. Emmanuel, Head of the Legal Unit at NITDA noted that while, most government agencies already have active websites, NITDA has been collaborating and engaging in different capacity building programmes to ensure a transition to a digital economy.


NCC pledges support to Meta on digital economy initiatives



By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

The Nigerian Communi cations Commission (NCC) has pledged its readiness to support digital economic initiatives of investors, including Meta (formerly Facebook), that align with Nigeria’s vision for a robust digital economy.

During a visit to the NCC’s headquarters in Abuja, a delegation from Meta, led by Kojo Boakye, the company’s Vice President for Africa, the Middle-East, and Turkey, met with Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The NCC EVC emphasised the importance of compliance with industry laws, regulations, and guidelines for creating a level-playing field that encourages healthy competition and sustainable growth in the Nigerian telecoms sector.

Boakye congratulating Dr. Maida on his appointment, shared Meta’s ongoing efforts to land the 2Africa submarine cable in Nigeria.

According to Boakye, “The 45,000-kilometer-long cable, scheduled to go live in 2023, will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects, interconnecting Europe (via Egypt), Asia (via Saudi Arabia), and Africa.

“With a design capacity of up to 180 terabytes per second (Tbps), the 2Africa cable aims to deliver much-needed Internet capacity and reliability across Africa, supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access.”

Boakye sought NCC’s support in navigating legal and regulatory processes for the cable’s landing in Nigeria, emphasising the positive impact it will have on connectivity and affordability.

The Meta delegation also outlined plans to simultaneously land the 2Africa cable in Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States through a consortium.

Boakye emphasised that this approach aims to connect those currently without access while enhancing and providing affordable access for those already connected.

Responding, Dr. Maida assured Meta of NCC’s commitment to supporting initiatives that align with Nigeria’s digital economy agenda and welcomed the potential benefits the 2Africa cable could bring to the country’s telecommunications landscape.

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Minister Tijani reels out 100 days achievement, hails Tinubu



The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy has reeled out his 100 days achievements as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In a recent address, Minister Tijani expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR for the unique honour bestowed upon him, and highlighted the collective accomplishments, outlining the path ahead for the Ministry.

Commending the unwavering support from directors, agency heads, and the entire team (NCC, NITDA, NigComSat, NDPC, NIPOST, GBB, etc), he emphasised the dynamic and cohesive force that has been shaped within the Ministry during this period.

Highlighting his achievements in office, Dr Tijani said, “The Ministry’s mandate, structured around five pillars – Knowledge, Policy, Infrastructure, Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Capital, and Trade – forms the core of the Strategic Blueprint. This blueprint guides the Ministry’s role in realizing the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

“In the first 100 days, the Knowledge pillar has been instrumental in driving initiatives, most notably the Three Million Technical Talent (3MTT) program. With over 1.6 million talented Nigerians applying in a month, partnerships, including a N1 Billion commitment from IHS Nigeria and UNDP’s funding for 3,000 internships, have significantly amplified the impact.

“The National AI Research Scheme received 2,118 proposals, showcasing the depth of talent in applying technology to critical sectors. Collaborations with the Raspberry Pi Foundation led to the establishment of Code Clubs in 17 locations, fostering technological talent from a young age.

“Under the Policy pillar, collaboration with NITDA resulted in the launch of the Startup Support and Engagement Portal, aligning with the Startup Act. White Papers on top AI talent of Nigerian descent and the 1:10:100 Implementation approach outline strategic directions.

“The Infrastructure pillar achieved milestones, including mapping over 2,500 innovation spaces and revamping NigComSat’s platforms. Extending coverage to underserved locations aligns with the commitment to providing digital opportunities. Engagements at global forums such as the Mobile World Congress and ITU-World Radio Conference underscore Nigeria’s global presence.”

On innovation, entrepreneurship and capital, Dr Tijani noted that “significant partnerships were forged under the Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Capital (IEC) pillar, including the $116 million financing for AFD’s I-DICE program and a $100 million Global AI partnership.”

“Initiatives like the 4IRTA platform and the Young Innovative Builders program demonstrate dedication to leveraging technology for sustainable development,” he narrated.

The Minister explained further that the achievements of his 100 days in office were a result of collective efforts that have shaped the first 100 days.

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ONDI receives 11,183 applications for third cohort of Ihatch



The Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) has disclosed that it received 11,183 applications for the third cohort of the Ihatch programme.

The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa made this known at the Ihatch startup incubation programme 2nd cohort demo day and 3rd cohort opening ceremony organised by the subsidiary of the agency, Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), in partnership with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) in Abuja.

Inuwa noted that the ihatch five-month free intensive incubation programme executed by the ONDI and hosted within the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) is designed to help Nigerian tech entrepreneurs refine their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures, and booth camps to develop scalable and adaptable business models that will focus on youth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

He added that the incubation programme will be held simultaneously in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Gombe, and Kano and JICA has agreed to extend the Fourth Cohort across each of the 36 States and the FCT. This is to enable wider reach and to stimulate the startup ecosystems across the States.

The DG stated that not fewer than 1,218 applications were received for the Second Cohort and the number was pruned down to 8 startups, comprising 16 persons, a Founder and Co-Founder for each startup, after undergoing levels of rigorous selection process conducted by a panel of judges, comprising experts in diverse areas of technology and innovative entrepreneurship.

He explained that the selection process assessed the startups’ ideas based on the criteria of profitability, scalability, social impact, idea technique, competitive advantage, experience, and a clearly defined future roadmap.

Inuwa further revealed that a total of 11,183 applications were received from across the 6 geopolitical zones for the Third Cohort. This culminated in the selection of the top 8 startups, comprising 16 founders in total that will participate in the Third Cohort that was launched.

He added that 16 startups that participated in the first and second cohorts of the iHatch incubation programme have moved on to achieve remarkable success in the areas of job creation, funding, participation in events, and valuable partnerships which have created a combined total of 179 direct jobs in the span of agriculture, health, education, and e-commerce sectors.

The DG further asserted that apart from the total grant of US$45,000 (US$15,000 each) for Proof of Concept (POC) to the top 3 startups in the first cohort, some of the startups have raised some funding through other sources. Xolani Health (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured a grant worth US$155,000, BetaLife (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured an angel investment of US$60,000, Gifty (an e-commerce startup from the second cohort) got a grant of USD$8,000 while two other startups from the first and second cohorts respectively, raised a combined total grant of US$6,000.

Inuwa affirmed the agency’s commitment to working with relevant stakeholders and partners towards the successful implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) which will accelerate innovation and provide much-needed jobs for our teeming youths. Leaving nothing to chance in our resolve to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in our youth to catalyze the Nigerian digital economy to the next level.

The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, represented by National Coordinator, National Talent Export Programme, Dr Femi Adeluyi, applauded NITDA for the various initiatives and programs put in place for the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the country.

Anite noted that the NITDA DG at the Digital Nigeria International Conference 2023 edition harped on the need for Nigeria to become the talent destination of the world where countries will come to seek a workforce that will work with them towards achieving their goals and objectives.

She added that “technology is a pivotal tool in all aspects of life which cannot be overemphasised and the green transition scoreboard global total has reached about $7.13 trillion for export and about $6.6 trillion for importation, the important aspect is that 54 percent of these activities is digitally edible and prepares people to be effective and efficient in the different sector of the economy is laudable.”

The Minister also appreciated JICA for its relentless efforts toward the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the area of automobile, development, training, scholarships, interventions and a lot more which has impacted the citizens directly or indirectly.

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