All You Need To Know About The National Digital Innovation And Entrepreneurial Centre

In NITDA’s efforts at making the transition from the traditional economy to the digital economy seamless, in line with National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS), the design and construction of the state of the art National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Centre is conceived.

It is common knowledge that the rapid growth of the unemployed population is due to deficiency in industry sought-after & marketable skills, especially in emerging technologies. Over the years, emphases have been placed on certificate more than skills which created a missing link between the industry and the academia. The Centre will create the required industry environment for our teaming youth which would encourage innovation and indigenization of technologies. Indigenization of technologies will help address the continuous reliance on foreign products and services which has negative impact on the economy. The Centre will also serve as a bridge between the Government, industry, and the academia in providing a research environment for creative idea integration, collaborative environment for the creation of ICT policies, processes & strategies.

This Centre will provide facilities to nurture new ideas and help develop inquisitive perspective that will create opportunities for entrepreneurs in becoming employers of labour. Furthermore, it will focus on promotion and development in ICT which include advanced and applied research; development in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Quantum Computing and also Smart Energy Solutions to drive ICT. In addition, the Centre will allow startups to accelerate and experience innovations at scale, through customized visits, design thinking sessions and co-innovation workshops thereby creating a highly collaborative & immersive environment.

It may be recalled that Nigeria is participating in the globally-acclaimed MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (MIT-REAP). The programme provides opportunities for communities around the world to engage with MIT in an evidence-based, practical approach to strengthening innovation-driven entrepreneurial (IDE) ecosystems. The initial focus of the centre is the Abuja region with the intention of replicating it across all regions of the country. The Centre will therefore serve as a link to existing and planned technology hubs across the country to foster innovation and knowledge base ventures, thereby boosting the capacity to create jobs and provide employment for our teaming population as enumerated in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria.

Furthermore, the Centre, serving as a hub for the MIT-REAP programme, is aimed at creating an innovative ecosystem based on Work, Live, Play and Learn concept. This will focus on creating a unique platform for Tech Skills, Soft Skills and Entrepreneurship Development. This will facilitate the creation of an enabling environment that would inspire, connect, encourage, and support technology start-ups and entrepreneurs towards innovation and indigenisation of technologies. The Centre will also serve as a link to technology hubs across the country to foster innovation and knowledge-based ventures, thereby boosting the capacity to create jobs and provide employment for our teaming youth, in line with Mr President’s economic diversification initiatives as outlined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Key Objectives of the Centre

Key objectives of the Centre include:

  1. serving as a catalyst for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship among both the public and private sector organisations as well as the academia;
  2. fostering development in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Quantum Computing and Smart Energy Solutions to drive ICT;
  3. provision of enabling environment for technology startups to accelerate and experience innovations at scale;
  4. fostering the development indigenous businesses to become world class service providers;
  5. provision of enabling environment for the promotion of advanced and applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT); and
  6. Facilitating the recognition and encouragement of indigenous innovation in emerging technologies.

Facilities at the Centre

 Co-Working Space (Hacker space /Maker space)

This area is for peer learning and knowledge sharing. It will accommodate innovative Nigerians with common interests in ICT to collaborate. It will also bring technology companies, entrepreneurs and university students/lecturers together to deliberate/brainstorm.

Business Research and Innovation Space

This section of the Centre will combine industry knowledge and advanced research technologies to explore important business trends and insights within the Nigeria market. Moreover, this section will provide technological advice and training for businesses and institutions through other partners, as well as foster collaboration in business activities. This section can also be utilized for meetings/discussions for potential investors.

Information Technology (IT) Museum

The evolution of ICT innovations will be displayed to allow young Nigerians learn about the history in ICT and also know the rate of development the country has achieved over the decades. It will also be an area were indigenous achievements can be displayed for people to see.

 Demo Laboratories (Idea and Discovery Hall)

The Demo Laboratories will host interactive Information Technology exhibitions and experiments/demonstration of emerging technologies so as to create excitement among Nigerians. This will help promote logical thinking, spark ideas and desire for technology among Nigerian youths. The Demo Laboratories will help create hands-on experience for the visitors.

 Media Studio

The media studio will be used for press conferences and interviews to showcase technological innovations to the world. The media studio will also be modelled for the production and editing of media materials.

 R&D Hi-tech showrooms

To display indigenous technology products which include local software applications and hardware from the Agency, startups and other Indigenous Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). Moreover, international OEMs like Cisco, Huawei, Oracle, etc. can also lease a space to showcase their latest technologies to the Nigerian populace.

 Smart Data Centre

The need for a state of the art Data Centre cannot be over emphasised. The Data Centre will house the critical infrastructure of the Centre such as servers, switches, gateway routers and other telecommunication equipment. Data generated in the Centre can be stored and processed within the data Centre. Furthermore, the network (Wireless Connectivity and Local Area Network) of the Centre will be integrated and controlled within the Data Centre.

The Data Centre reduces the rate at which hardware devices are refreshed and also reduces the exposure to the depreciation of assets.

 Network Operation Centre (NOC)

The Network Operation Centre (NOC) is an area where monitoring of the Centre’s network and security feeds is to be carried out. Furthermore, it is anticipated that integration mechanism will be provided to enable direct monitoring of the Agency’s hubs.

 Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Centre (CERRT)

A state of the art Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Centre (CERRT) will be housed within the Centre. This will allow the team to provide the necessary support needed in responding to cyber security incidents and also enhance national security and law enforcement.

Conference Rooms

Conference rooms are necessary for each floor of the Centre to ensure simultaneous activities such as interactive seminars, meetings, trainings, presentations, etc.

 Storage area/Archives

A dedicated storage area will be provided such that the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of official documents are maintained in line with the ISO27001 policy.

 Auditorium (250-Seater)

A state of the art auditorium will be provided in the Centre. This is an area where people can gather to listen to presentations by innovators and also host technological programs such as TEDx talk shows.

 Sick Bay

Considering the purpose of the Centre, the need for a basic medical facility (Sick Bay) that can provide First Aid cannot be over emphasised. The health facility will be fully equipped and manned to run for 24 hours a week and 7 days a week.

 Sporting Facilities – Snooker, Gym, Table Tennis etc

It is established that most creativity, innovation and inventions occur during recreational activities. The Centre is therefore designed to house areas having recreational facilities.

 Pent House

The importance of a relaxation area for innovators and entrepreneurs that is likely to be working in the Centre for a prolonged period of time cannot be over emphasised. A Floor is therefore dedicated for this purpose.

 Smart Automation

More importantly, the facilities in the Centre will be fully automated to simplify activities. They will be centrally controlled, integrated and interoperable in a manner that the operations of the Centre will be driven in a smart and intelligent manner. The aim is to make the Centre’s more efficient, enhance stakeholder experience, boost employee morale, increase productivity and facilitate savings in operating and maintenance costs.

As can be seen in the brief outline above, the Centre will be equipped with modern, state of the art facilities that promised to be minimal, modern, functional and comfortable for the use of stakeholders. This is yet another giant stride of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards the realisation of the vision of transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all, as outlined in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).