By Omobayo Azeez
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has rolled out plans to create or retain no fewer than one million jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
Kashifu Abdullahi, director-general of the agency said the initiative became imperative as part of efforts to cushion negative impacts of Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the economy and survival of the people.
He made this known recently during the virtual submission of report from the agency’s Advisory Committee, mandated to access the impact of covid-19 pandemic on Technology and Innovation Ecosystem also known as Tech4Covid19.
Tech4Covid19 Advisory Committee was constituted in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, precisely on April 1st, 2020, as one the measures put forward by Isa Pantami, the minister of communication and digital economy, to cushion the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on information technology ecosystem.
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.
Mr Kashifu maintained that based on the discussion he had with the minister, the government is targeting to create or retain one million jobs in ICT sector this year.
He said the FG is looking at many 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 jobs can be created directly or indirectly.
“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 work force and if the government does not do anything to intervene during this pandemic we are going to lose the 100 thousand jobs or if government intervenes by doing some certain things we are going to retain all the 100 thousand jobs and create additional 30 thousand jobs”, he said.
He enjoined businesses to approach the agency with facts and figures that government is open to intervene quickly as job creation is one of its top priorities.
Abdullahi asserted that for the government to have full understanding and confidence that the IT sector will contribute greatly in terms of job creation, however the facts and figures must be justifiable and accurate.
“We all believe that a lot of things will change after these pandemic. As some believe that the 4th industrial revolution will take place. As such we need to unlock this hidden opportunities or identify the silver lining which are the Digital First and keep businesses up and running,” he added.
He said, “A lot of technologies will come on board and people will embrace them. A lot of things are going to change and a lot of businesses are going to be powered by technologies.”
Concerning the recommendations, Kashifu assured the committee that NITDA and the Minister Pantami will do everything possible in their capacity to see that all the highlighted recommendations in the four critical areas are tackled accordingly.