FG Working On Digital Innovation And Entrepreneurship Policy To Mitigate The Impact Of COVID19 – Kashifu Inuwa

To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the Nation’s digital ecosystem, the Federal Government has commenced work on digital innovation and entrepreneurship policy.

This was revealed by the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi Inuwa on Tuesday, 13th September 2020 at the Investments in Indigenous ICT Stakeholder Roundtable Session with the theme; National Imperatives for Investments in Indigenous Content Development of Nigeria’s Digital Economy.

The statement partially read, “The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound negative effect on foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow to developing countries, including Nigeria.

“In late March, the International Monetary Fund IMF announced that investors had removed $83 billion from developing countries since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the largest capital outflow ever recorded. And according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows are expected to contract between 30 to 40 percent this year.

“The lack of in-country venture capital and other investment resources within our tech ecosystems is of great concern. With an increasingly attractive investment landscape, exceptional talent, and a large population, Nigeria has become a hotspot for FDI. In 2019, according to the Technet report, Nigeria attracted 50.5% of the $1.34B African tech startups raised, which is equivalent to $ 663.24m.

“Looking at the current realities, Covid-19 will have a long-term impact on FDI well beyond 2020. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our digital ecosystem, the Nigerian Federal Government is already working on digital innovation and entrepreneurship policy.

“Today’s stakeholder roundtable discussion is aimed at identifying a sustainable investment framework for the Nigerian tech ecosystem in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria. This event’s outcome will also be used as an input for the proposed Digital innovation and entrepreneurship policy that the Honourable Minister directed NITDA to engage the tech community on.

“These initiatives will help us consolidate the impressive growth of the ICT sector. Despite COVID-19 pandemic, ICT has significantly contributed to our national GDP this year. In Q2, its contribution grew to 17.83%, making it the third-highest contributor to the Nigerian GDP.

“Even though no industry is recession-proof, but it proven that tech-enabled sectors is more likely to withstand the shocks under this pandemic. The digital economy is getting a boost as you and I embrace new ways of life, work, and take our activities online.
The government is also committed to digitalizing its services. Within a year at NITDA, through the IT Projects Clearance process, we reviewed and evaluated FG investment in IT worth over ₦1.1T. This is a clear indication of the FG’s commitment to supporting indigenous investment in ICT.

“However, we need more strategic and deeper collaborations to ensure that these investments’ impact and benefits are fully realized. Additionally, The Ministry and NITDA have risen to the ecosystem’s prevailing challenges and swung into full action to support the ecosystem to navigate its way out of the crisis. We have come up with groundbreaking initiatives in skills development and capacity building in the ecosystem. Other initiatives include innovation challenge – to cushion the economic impact, the establishment of tech hubs, innovation and incubation parks across the country.

“The tech4COVID-19 committee proposed solutions in four critical areas that are; business continuity, startup funding, government policy, and support for tech hubs. The Honourable Minister has therefore approved the implementation of the recommendation.

“Lastly, under the directive of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, NITDA will engage all relevant stakeholders to craft digital innovation and entrepreneurship policy. The policy objective is to address the challenges faced by our tech innovation ecosystem. We will also leverage our youthful population, increasing smartphone and broadband penetration, and focused government policy on the digital economy to create the perfect recipe for a thriving digital innovation ecosystem, Kashifu concluded.

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