By Samuel Ohwovoriole
The Federal Government of Nigerian in its quest to achieve its digital economic policy of digitalizing the Nigerian economy has established a National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (NDIEC), in Abuja for young innovators and entrepreneurs. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami said when the Centre is completed it will aide young people to have cutting edge skills in a digitalized economy
Speaking at the foundation laying ceremony on Thursday in Abuja Dr. Pantami said that the NDIEC in Nigeria will create employment opportunities and cutting-edge technological skills for young Nigerians.
He said that benefits of the Centre huge saying it will; “enable Nigerians to acquire cutting-edge technological skills; enable Nigerians to participate in the development of hardware, software and emerging technologies; create an innovative ecosystem; create a unique platform for technical skills (programming), soft skills (social interaction), entrepreneurship (starting and operating a business) to focus on the promotion and development of ICT, including smart energy solutions to drive ICT.
“It will help to nurture new ideas and develop an inquisitive perspective to support in the creation of employers of labour; support in the promotion and development of ICTs, including aspects of advanced applied research; and allow startups to accelerate and experience innovations at scale, through customized visits, design thinking sessions and co-innovation workshops to create a highly collaborative and immersive environment,” he added.
He used the opportunity to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for his support for the project and approval of the building.
According to him, “the idea received the overwhelming support of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, because of the huge positive impact it can have on the lives of Nigerians.”
The Minister noted that Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship are globally recognized as two prerequisites for achieving an indigenous Digital Economy.
“As such, a successful digital innovation and entrepreneurship programme will support us in the development of our digital economy and this is exactly what this Centre aims to achieve. We are also developing National Policy on Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which this Centre and many other centres all over the country will implement.
The groundbreaking ceremony is another giant leap towards the development of our digital economy and diversification of our country’s economy,” said the Minister”.
In addition he said, “The Centre will be based on the ‘live, work and learn’ concept. The activities of the Centre align with six out of the eight pillars of our National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria. We are also developing National Policy on Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which this Centre and many other centres all over the country will implement.
“Our National Digital Economy Policy appreciates the importance of identifying and supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and it also focuses on encouraging many of these SMEs to go a step further by aiming to become Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs).
In his words, “The IDE-concept has been promoted by leading institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and these enterprises, no doubt, have great advantages. In contrasting IDEs and MSMEs we find that IDEs tend to have a global outlook while SMEs tend to start small and choose to remain local.
“IDEs also generally require more capital than SMEs and tend to integrate innovation more into their activities more than SMEs. However, they can have a far more significant impact on the economy than the SMEs can.”
Pantami said he is championing the development of home grown entrepreneurs in Nigeria. “I currently lead an Abuja Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT-REAP) to accelerate the development of homegrown IDEs in Nigeria.
“We are adopting MIT’s proven frameworks on accelerating innovation to create localized strategies for developing and sustaining enterprises driven by innovation. That same IDE-approach will be utilized in this Centre.
“As part of our policy, I earlier directed the Director-General of NITDA to include the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in the proposed budget of the Agency. The National Assembly graciously approved the request.”
He commended the Director-General of National Information and Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, for his great effort towards the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy”.
He praised NITDA for its role in the actualization of the project. “NITDA’s role towards the digital innovation and entrepreneurship initiative is pivotal. I urge you to keep supporting the growth of the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country,” Pantami stated.
On his part the Director General, NITDA Dr. Kashifu Abdullahi noted that the Centre is the first of its kind in Africa which is aimed at providing an enabling environment that would inspire and encourage technology start-ups as well as entrepreneurs towards innovation and indigenization of technologies.
“Digital economy is mainly driven by rapid business innovation, using digital technology to deliver new customer value proposition, new business model, new organizational structure, new customer experience, operational excellence and enhanced products and services.
“This cannot be achieved in isolation; we need innovation ecosystem. It is obvious innovation is not evenly distributed globally but there is something common among all innovative countries. They all have a strong innovation ecosystem. To build a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Nigeria we have keyed into MIT program call REAP – Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program,” he noted.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Muhammed Bello who was represented by his cheif of staff, Mr Bashir Mai-Borno said, “the FCT values the deployment of digital infrastructures as a means of improving security, Traffic management, waste disposal, Transportation logistics as well as other aspect of city management. That is why we sincerely welcome the establishment of the National Digital Innovation and entrepreneurship Centre which is designed to inspire, connect, encourage and support technologies start-ups, entrepreneurs and businesses especially in the FCT”.
Meanwhile, the Group Managing Director Nigeria National Petrolium corporation NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari reiterated that “NNPC’S alignment with NITDA from the very onset is that we are in a partnership that works for all of us, for our share holders and for our country and we are very proud that the Honourable Minister is supporting this process to ensure that this innovation Centre is put in place. We will collaborate with NITDA and other agencies of the Ministry so that we can bring value on the table for all our share holders and our costumers”.
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