By Martin Ekpeke
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta and other heads of sister agencies under the Ministry, today hailed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was established on the 18th of April 2001, following the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the National Information Technology Policy in March 2001. Consequently, the National Assembly passed into law the NITDA Act, 2007, which mandates the Agency to regulate, develop, and advise on Information Technology practices in Nigeria.
NITDA has since then through various Director Generals worked assiduously to help Nigeria catch the train of the 4th industrial revolution without leaving any sector of the economy behind.
Speaking at the anniversary celebration and unveiling of the 20th Anniversary logo, the Minister, who has also served as a Director-General of the agency, noted that NITDA has played critical roles in national development by providing the legal framework for information technology development and pioneering IT developmental projects.
Specifically, he hailed NITDA in the area of Information Technology project clearance, which he said has helped in the fight against corruption in tandem with President Muhamaddu Buhari agenda.
According to him, the effective handling of IT project clearance by NITDA has saved Nigeria over N2billion, disclosing that before now contractors hyped the cost of executing a contract for the government.
For the EVC of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, NITDA has done fantastically well for championing the digital economy agenda.
He said in the last twenty years of NITDA, the agency has facilitated access to information technology goods and services, catalysing job creation and ensuring national security. Thus, crystalising Nigeria’s resolution to embrace digital transformation.
“NITDA’s 20 years of IT services deserve commendations. The journey may be slow but Nigeria is really on the right part towards the actualisation of the digital economy,” said Danbatta in his remark.
Others who hailed NITDA on the 20th Anniversary include the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone Limited, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, the CEO of Nigcomsat, Abimbola H. Alale, Post-Master General of the Federation, Adebayo Adewusi and the DG of NIMC, Aliyu Abubakar Aziz.
Meanwhile, an elated Director-General of NITDA, Mal. Kashifu Inuwa has said NITDA has substantially actualised the National IT Policy’s goal to digitise Nigeria and the Agency is now in the phase of digitalising the country.
Highlighting some of the achievements since its establishment, Mal. Inuwa said NITDA contributed in the huge ICT contribution to GDP from less than 0.5% in 2001 to more than 14% in 2020, catalysing job creation and igniting innovative activities in the tech ecosystem.
“We have achieved a lot in digital inclusion and literacy. As a result, we are witnessing the emergence of new economic sectors like Fintech, eCommerce, Venture Capital investment, Business Process Outsourcing, Data Protection Compliance Organisations, IT equipment manufacturing, and robust software industry,” he stated.
He added that in 2007, NITDA started its developmental interventions by deploying ten (10) Rural Information Technology Resource Centre (RITC) across the country’s six Geo-Political zones. The number increased to 17 in 2008, 58 in 2009, and 119 in 2010.
With increased awareness of the Agency’s intervention, demand-specific interventions were developed. These include Community Access Venues (CACs), Knowledge Access Venues (KAVs), Digital Capacity Building Centres (DCBCs), Digital Job Creation Centres (DJCCs), Digital Divide Bridging Centres (DDBCs), Digital Economy Centres (DECs), IT Infrastructure for Higher Institutions, Wide Area Network for Higher Institutions, Virtual Library, IT Innovation and Incubation Parks, IT Community Training Centres, IT Innovation Hubs, and IT Skills Acquisition and Computer-Based Testing Centres. From inception to date, you will be glad to know that the Agency has deployed over one thousand, five hundred and sixty (1,560) Centres across the country, with a minimum of two Centres in each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.
Another critical area of focus for the Agency was Capacity Building, which started with a Train-the-Trainer programme for Lecturers in Tertiary Institutions. It grows into having special programmes for Women, People Living with Disabilities, Military and Paramilitary, Public Officers, students, NYSC, Artisans, Primary School Children and now having various programmes delivered online through the NITDA Academy for Research and Training. So far, the Agency has impacted over 2.5 Million Nigerians directly and/or indirectly in multiple areas of IT through its interventions and training.
The highlight of the occasion is the unveiling of the NITDA’s 20th Anniversary Logo, which was done by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.