In the stride to strengthen the contribution of ICT to the nation’s GDP, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has continued to engage Goggle on collaborative measures toward improving the ecosystem.
The NITDA Director-General, Kashifu Inuwa, while receiving the Google West Africa Director, Juliet Ehimuan, and the Government Relations and Public Policy team, noted that the symbiotic relationship between the two organisations would enable the adequate representation of data. He said this is in line with implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria.
“Together, we can achieve greater results. Governmental regulations are not to stifle or be an obstacle to your business; rather, it is to enable and unlock more opportunities and protect your business and our citizens’,” he said.
Inuwa noted that government has the responsibility to protect its citizens. “Today, our lives depend mostly on this digital technology, and your business contributes to meeting this demand.”
He emphasised the need to have a safer environment because the breach would affect both parties. “If we can come together to strengthen the collaboration, we will eliminate duplication of efforts and working in silos.”
He affirmed that NITDA is currently engaging other tech innovators like Mastercard to improve the ecosystem and collaborating on Digital Literacy, Cyber Security, and some of the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021-2024) including Data Protection.
Inuwa lamented that the lack of adequate data misrepresented information that would have attracted more foreign investors to our country.
He said people want to associate with success; ”if nobody shares success stories, people will think nothing is happening in the ecosystem”.
“We read what you tell and show us, and it helps in our decision making because we believe in Google,” he added.
The NITDA boss maintained that the algorithm must be ethical in the core values, laws, and culture, noting that technology can compromise through gender imbalance or racism. He blamed the situation on insufficient data and clamoured that working with locals to make our contents indigenous could avert such breaches.
He mentioned that four weeks ago, the Honorable Minister led a team from the Ministry to the Lagos ecosystem, where we met with most of the players in the sector. They shared some of the pinpoints we will present to the Federal Executive Council FEC and sought approval for things we need to do to help the ecosystem.
Inuwa applauded the effort of Google in the capacity building of Nigerians with a target to train 5 million indigenes. He implored that such records be made available to capture the number of digital literacy in Nigeria because President Muhammed Buhari’s government aims to achieve 95% digital literacy by 2030.
In her remarks, Google West Africa Director, Juliet Ehimuan, thanked NITDA for being one of Google’s key strategic partners and stakeholders in the public sector with a long-standing relationship. She acknowledged past collaborative efforts between both organisations, saying that her organisation is looking forward to continued collaborations.
While noting that the courtesy visit identifies possible areas for further collaboration, she physically introduces the new Government Relations and Public Policy team members to her host. They include; Adewole Adene and Dawn Dimowo who are to share updates on some of the work and initiatives that Google West Africa has been doing in the tech space within the country, and finally, to get feedback on Nigeria’s top priorities on the ecosystem.
Juliet confirmed that Google has invested in helping to build the digital ecosystem with all the government and private sector partners for almost a decade.
“In October last year, we had an event which we called Google for Africa, and during that event, we had our global CEO pledge, on our behalf, a $1 billion investment in Africa over five years. In the area of access, we have recently acquired a submarine cable called “Equiano” in partnership with a service provider in this environment which is landing in Nigeria on 21 April. Forecasts are indicating that a lot of people are coming online. At least 300 Million more Internet users in Africa over the next five years, so there will be more demand for the internet. And following the Covid pandemic, we saw a lot of migration online and acceleration in terms of digital engagement, which will create more demand, that its’ capacity would have a huge contribution to the GDP growth with the technology adoption and job creation. Our initial estimate is to contribute directly and indirectly to create about 1.6 million jobs over time and work around device financing in partnership with telcos to make sure that people have access either through infrastructure or device data to gauge the digital world”, she disclosed.
According to Juliet, Google is engaging in a lot of capacity building. Both organisations have a shared interest in providing free digital skills training to individuals to over 6 million people since 2017 when it pledged to train 10 million Africans and other notable areas of support contributing to the economic prosperity and education in ICT. “There is a $40 million grant to NGOs, of which $20 million will be in cash and $20 million in art credits.” she concluded.
The NITDA Director-General appointed Dr Aminu Lawal, the Special Adviser on Digital Transformation, to liaison between both organisations.
By Yewande Foluke Bassey