The Director General of the National information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi is convinced that partnership and collaboration are key ingredients needed in strengthening the IT ecosystem.
Mallam Abdullahi stated this when he received the Science and Higher Education Attaché to the French Embassy in Nigeria. Professor Leila Mathieu and Dr Ismail Ibrahim of University of Lagos on courtesy visit to his office.
The visit was to discuss mechanisms to facilitate partnership between the French government and NITDA in areas of Technical education that will enhance technological entrepreneurship taking one advantage of opportunities of information Technology (IT) especially for start-ups.
The Director General noted that with Covid-19 pandemic, the face of business, employment, social life and life opportunities has changed completely and survival of any Nation and her people rest in information technology. To this end, NITDA has no option other than to deepen opportunities in IT related deployment, thus assisting the government meets the yarning of the people.
The NITDA boss further noted that the idea of IT Hubs and Innovation Parks which are being pursued vigorously by NITDA is to provide platforms for key stakeholders to meet, brainstorm and exchange ideas.
Malam Abdullahi also noted that the IT hubs being established across the country is to enhance the start-ups thereby creating massive employment. A critical requirement to enhance this lies in providing mentorship for the start-ups. This he opined is of critical concern to NITDA.
The DG also expressed concern on a critical challenge in the IT ecosystem as the inability of Universities and their products to readily fit into the industry. This challenge which arose because of the nature of the university curriculum and the need of the IT world which are not in sync.
To this end, universities need to be close to the ever changing and dynamic IT industry, adding that, “it is better to establish graduates that are employers not employees.”
The visiting Diplomat intimated the DG that in recent years the French government had begun an IT driven programme named ‘’FAB-LABs’’ to provide access to start-ups entrepreneurs by providing a platform for like-minds to discuss and interact on new ideas and new businesses especially in IT.
The FAB-LAB is an IT hub with requisite IT infrastructures. FAB-LAB has so far been established in five institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. ( University of Lagos, Bayero University Kano. University of Jos, Ahmadu Bello University and University of Ibadan).
The Attaché noted that the French government deeply appreciates the giant strides of NITDA especially in Digital library, Data protection and thus is desirous of achieving close collaboration with the Agency so as to ensure that the FAB-LAB project is sustained and is sustainable while exploring new areas of relationship.
In his response, the Director General of NITDA noted that the visit by the French Diplomat could not have come at a better time than now and the request to NITDA is quite timely.
He particularly noted that NITDA in the fulfilment of its mandate has been engaged in building of IT hubs and Information Innovation parks around the country and on its own had began to implement FAB-LAB since the beginning of 2020. NITDA had built IT hub in Abuja and the Fabrication Lab is going to be used in partnership with MIT- REAP,” he said.