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Digital economy key to Nigeria’s diversification: NITDA

National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said digital economy is key to Nigeria’s economic diversification.

• June 24, 2021
NITDA DG, Kashifu Inuwa and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele
NITDA DG, Kashifu Inuwa and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said digital economy is key to Nigeria’s economic diversification.

The Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, explained that Nigeria would lead other African countries in artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology, leading to economic diversification on the continent.

Mr Inuwa stated this on Wednesday at the virtual Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2021, where he spoke on ‘Building a New Africa with AI and Blockchain.’

He noted that with the growing population of the continent and the dwindling oil revenue, especially in Nigeria, there was a need to harness other areas to diversify the economy.

According to him, emerging technology is one area and will play an important role in economic diversification.

“Digital technologies are changing the world at a faster pace than previously experienced waves of technological innovation. Nigeria needs to accelerate growth and modernise its economy through the development of a digital-led growth strategy for the Nigerian economy.

“It is pertinent to note that despite the economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the growth observed in the economies were those from viable digital economies. Digital economy has been identified as an engine of growth. Hence Nigeria can harness it as a driver of growth and innovation,” he said.

The NITDA boss affirmed that the World Bank Group Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative supported the digital transformation strategy for Africa, prepared by the African Union (AU).

He also pointed out that the DE4A initiative recognised that digital economy could help accelerate the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He recounted that recently a call to action was made with the unveiling of the ‘Economic Sustainability Plan 2020,’ which sought to put technology at the forefront of driving development in Nigeria.

Mr Inuwa said the conference was a meeting point for professionals, practitioners, and policymakers to brainstorm on the best ways to harness these technologies to the advantage of the citizenry.

“For Nigeria, a country in dire need to diversify its economy, digital economic activities are key for diversification because they transcend all aspects of human endeavours and the economic sector,” he said.

He pointed out that at NITDA, the development and utilisation of emerging technologies was one of the strategic pillars for the 2021-2024 Roadmap and Action Plan of the agency.

To drive that, he said the agency was collaborating with relevant stakeholders and researchers to ensure AI, blockchain, and other emerging technologies support the economic diversification and sustainability plan for the country.

He reiterated that the focus on the economic advancement of Sub-Saharan Africa, leveraging emerging technologies, specifically AI, Blockchain, Internet of Things, and 5G was highly commendable and apt.

He urged stakeholders present at the event to make necessary partnerships and collaborations towards making Nigeria a leading knowledge and digital economy by 2030.

The keynote speaker at the event, Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, encouraged Africa to take advantage of the unprecedented volume of data generated on sentiment, behaviour, human health, commerce, communications, migration, and more.

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