NITDA targets innovations from public sector
IN line with its commitment to turn Nigeria into a technology innovation hub in Africa, the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a special purpose vehicle established under National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act, has commenced a strategic interactive program among federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and ICT startups.
The OIIE was setup to nurture, cultivate and expand ICT innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria in line with NITDA Act 2007 and the National ICT policy.
In his opening remarks at a two-day event in Abuja, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications, Arch Sonny Echono, said information communication technology (ICT) is a key tool in the change agenda of the current administration. He stressed that President Buhari’s administration would deploy ICT to tackle youth employment, wealth creation, economic growth, efficiency and transparency in government.
According to him, the objective of the retreat was for the OIIE to start an active engagement between the ICT start-ups and government. “It is expected that through these initiatives and programmes, there will be an increase in the contributions from ICT to the national GDP, which will include more jobs and wealth creation”.
National Coordinator, OIIE, Bunmi Okunowo, stressed that government the world over is a huge market for ICT entrepreneurs as there are challenges in government processes and service delivery requiring solution. He further stressed, “As it’s often said, charity begins at home. There is a need to infuse new ICT innovations into government to improve efficiency in its service delivery to its stakeholders, as well as increase transparency and accountability”.
There is an increasing number of ICT startups and entrepreneurs with government-facing technologies, Okunowo explained, that have evolved over time and can solve specific challenges in government.
“We have startups like Talentbase with HR solution, Prowork with mobile-based project management app, Slimtrader, an agro-allied based app, e-Pump solution from Africania, Wecyclers, an incentive-based recycling company, Wizitup with an educational solution and many others across the country”.
Specifically, he explained that the aim of the Government Startup Interactive Program (GSIP) would be to establish networks and dialogue between the Heads of ICT in MDAs and IT start-ups towards improving efficiency in government service delivery through innovative and trendy technologies, as well as creating market opportunities for startups.
Secretary, Council of ICT Heads in MDAs, Mrs. Moni Udoh offered that the council would collaborate with IT startups in the provision of required assistance that would enable them deploy IT tools to address public sector challenges. She disclosed that though the Council was inaugurated on April 4, 2013, as an advisory body with no authority to make decisions, it could encourage ICT transformational changes within the MDAs.
She opined that the aim is “to promote collaboration among ICT leaders in the MDAs and organize experience, knowledge and information sharing sessions to promote identification of leading practices and organizational improvement, act as agents for the diffusion and adoption of leading IT practices across MDAs, promote professionalism among IT cadre while grooming future leaders in the IT industry”.
While presenting his paper, senior manager, Technological Growth Platform at Accenture Nigeria, a leading global professional service company, Babatunde Adebola disclosed that Nigeria has emerged the sixth highest spender in the world on ICT in 2015, with USA, UK and Germany as the three top ICT spenders from 2013 to 2015.
“Outcome of the comparative analysis between USA and UK and developing countries like Nigeria, suggested that western countries spend more on IT services, data centre system and internal services while developing countries spend more on devices and telecommunications,” he said.
In his own contribution, CEO and Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone, Arch. Yusuf Kazaure emphasized the need for capacity building among the MDAs and entrepreneurs work in a manner that is sustainable, inclusive and contributory to the progress of the country as a whole.
The highlight of the retreat was the demo session by the ICT startups. Five startups displayed their solution to over 50 heads of the council. Some of the solutions include Prowork, Wizitup, Talentbase, Medismart and Mobi Agric.