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Data for development: FG launches World Bank development report 2021



The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, has re-echoed the need for key players in the sector to create value within the digital economy using data to enhance the process. Prof. Pantami said this while launching the World Development Report 2021 in Abuja.

The Minister who was represented by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, described the theme of the event, “Leveraging data to foster development, Where does Nigeria Stand?” as not just exciting but also thoughts provoking.

While reacting to the question regarding “where Nigeria stands,” the Minister noted that the country stands at a crossroad, between harnessing the value of data for development and avoiding its perils.

“President Muhammadu Buhari re-designated and expanded the mandate of our ministry from Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy because Communication is just technology which is just an enabler, and can be used as a means to an end, while the end is how you can use technology to enhance your economy. This will help us create the value.”

While alluding to the observations captured in the report which indicate that Nigeria appears to be struggling in terms of the usage, Prof. Pantami acknowledged the fact that under the formulated National Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, the Nation has an ambitious target to achieve a lot in terms of building trust, being equitable, especially in the area of safeguarding data and infrastructure among others.

“For example, we have an ambition to achieve 95per cent broadband penetration by 2030. How can we ignite the usage of that broadband, and how can we increase the coverage as well. The government is doing a lot in that aspect. Moreso, it has issued InfraCo (Infrastructure Companies) License to Private Companies to deepen the penetration.”

According to The Communications and Digital Economy Boss, NITDA’s ambitious target of achieving 95per cent Digital Literacy by 2030 is expected to also help the usage as there is a dire need for Nigerians to fully understand the technology in order to embrace it and use it.

He expressed the hope that with the support of World Development Bank as well as other partners, the seemingly ambitious target will be achieved in the long run.

“We want every Nigerian to be able to use his/her mobile phone, computers, and other digital devices to access digital services as well as to use it for economic activities.”

The Minister disclosed that within a year, NITDA, which is a parastatal under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has been able to impact 1.6 million Nigerians in terms of basic digital literacy as well as discovering, building and hatching talents; adding that the Agency would be unveiling another initiative on training 1million developers within a year in Nigeria.

“We know there is challenge gap, and we know we need to bridge the gap and build capacity in the country so that our people can build applications that can easily be used by our citizens because it’ll be easier for us to build our services than to buy off the shelf services. We need services that can easily be used in the different Nigerian languages and English as well as something that can easily connect with our people in terms of our culture and value. We are doing a lot on that and we’re looking forward to your partnership in digital literacy.”

He made reference to the impact made by Digital Identity which is anchored by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), confirming that what the commission has achieved within one and a half years is more than what has been achieved in the past 10years in terms of Digital Identity.

“When you are online, you need to be identified and the only way to achieve that is digital identity, we want every citizen to be identified online and offline.”

In the area of Data Protection, the Minister made it clear that the Federal Government established the National Data Protection Bureau to make sure the data protection is independent from any agency, stressing that the establishment has helped immensely to achieve more in terms of safeguarding and enabling the regulations.

“The government is trying to make sure everyone is carried along. I think the insight we got from the presentation is quite impressive, we will look at where we need to improve and where we need to consolidate on our achievement so that we can make sure every Nigerian benefit from digital economy and every Nigerian knows how to use data for good. For the big tech, we are working with them to make sure they use data for profit and for humanity as well. We are working with them to come up with a code of practice as well as trying to come up with a law that will safeguard every Nigerian using digital platform because.”

Prof. Pantami commended the World Bank Group Flagship Report and sued for commitment from stakeholders towards harnessing the value of data to create prosperity for all.

Speaking earlier, the Country Director of World Bank, Shubham Chaudhuri said the body’s mandate is to work with the Government of Nigeria and help line up support in delivering for the Nigerian people, concessional financing both at the Federal and sub-national level.

Chaudhuri emphasised that the projects are basically World Bank supported Nigerian programmes and not World Bank’s as usually misconstrued in some quarters.

He expressed certainty that the potentials of Nigeria will come to fruition if all hands are on deck.

While describing Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy with huge potentials and market, he said the organisation is willing to not just support the country financially but also contribute in other key areas, including institutional reforms and Policies


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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