As an attempt to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has promised the creation and protection of one million jobs in Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology sector before the end of this year. The jobs, according to the government will be created mainly through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, who disclosed this during a virtual submission of the report of the NITDA Advisory Committee on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Technology and Innovation Ecosystem also known as Tech4Covid19, stated that the jobs will be created based on the discussion he had with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.
Specifically, the NITDA boss said they are looking at different areas in terms of startups doing agricultural value chains, empowering hubs, developing and implementing the framework of business process outsourcing and other areas, to see how thousands of these jobs can be created directly or indirectly.
“We all believe that a lot of things will change after this pandemic. Some believe that the 4th industrial revolution will take place. As such we need to unlock these hidden opportunities or identify the silver lining which is the Digital First and keep businesses up and running,” said Inuwa.
He added that a lot of technologies will come on board and people will leverage them to empower their businesses.
Tech4Covid19 Advisory Committee was constituted at the wake of the pandemic in Nigeria, precisely on April 1st, 2020, at the instance of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami to come up with measures to be taken to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on startups, small and medium businesses as well as the technology ecosystem in general.
The 10 member Advisory committee was given the term of reference to, among others, device suitable strategies for the provision of affordable internet access to individuals and businesses; develop a framework to facilitate access to financing for tech and tech-enabled ventures, and device modalities for encouraging the development and adoption of digital technology, as well as support policies in line with the “Work from Home” directive of the federal government.
“In doing so, I urge the committee to develop a business plan; stating facts and figures on how the IT sector will create and protect jobs. What I want from the committee are two things: One, for example, you state that we have 100 thousand workforces and if the government does not do anything to intervene during this pandemic we are going to lose the 100, 000 jobs or if the government intervenes by doing some certain things we are going to retain all the 100, 000 jobs and create additional 30 thousand jobs,” said NITDA Boss.
He affirmed that if we have the facts and figures to present to the government, they will intervene quickly as job creation is one of its top priorities.
Furthermore, Kashifu asserted that for the government to have full understanding and confidence that the IT sector will contribute greatly in terms of job creation, the facts and figures must be justifiable and accurate.
He emphasized that the committee is not to address the pre- COVID-19 issues, but to look into the issues and challenges of the In-COVID-19 and prepare the nation for the post-COVID-19 world.
Concerning the recommendations, Kashifu assured the committee that NITDA and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami will do everything possible in their capacity to see that all the highlighted recommendations in the 4 critical areas are tackled accordingly.
He further informed the members of the committee that in regards to the hubs intervention, the agency intends to provide them with a business opportunity where they can earn money, have startups and create more job opportunities as it is the focus of the agency and the government.
He then urged the hubs to come up with a business proposal on how many job opportunities can be created and how much is needed.
On the business process outsourcing, Mallam Kashifu assured the committee that the Agency will fast track its process and bring out positive results soon.
He applauded the efforts of the committee in delivering a timely report despite the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, stating that the briefing from the chairman of the committee shows that everything is on track and ready for implementation.
The Advisory Committee, however, recommended the following; secure permit/approval to allow all technology-enabled startups with products and services that are categorized as essential to operate across the country during lockdown period; that NITDA, in conjunction with Nigeria Communication Commission and local telecommunication companies, secures a discounted uncapped data plan for all interested tech-enabled businesses to facilitate remote working during the lockdown period and open a direct line of communication with businesses and ecosystem intermediaries for continuous assessment of the impact of the pandemic on tech-enabled business for continuous assessment of necessary palliative to aid business continuity.