COVID-19: NITDA tasks professionals, researchers on solutions

April 28, 2020
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The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kafishu Abdullahi, has challenged researchers, professionals, among others to come up with ‘tailor-fitted solutions’ to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Abdullahi spoke late last week in Abuja at an online event tagged, COVID-19: Hackathon,’ also called Hack the Crisis in Nigeria.

Abdullahi in his keynote address, COVID-19: Nigeria’s status and update, said beyond the health crisis, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic since its outbreak, has also demonstrated to be a socio-economic scourge.

“The post COVID-19 era will have an economy shaped by new habits, policies and regulations based on reduced close-contact interaction.

“Ten shifts will happen in many fronts: geopolitics, human behaviour, industry dynamics, macro economics, regulation and technology among others,” he said.

The NITDA DG explained that the shifts had already begun, especially in the area of technology, adding that digital technology in particular would take the lead henceforth.

He said the country was already experiencing it as there were restricted travels, limited gatherings and that remote working was in vogue.

“And here we are running an online event to turn things around,” Abdullahi said.

According to him, economic managers around the world are already taking swift and holistic measures to forestall a recession.

He said it was clear that more needs to be done, particularly in Nigeria, to guarantee a return to normalcy.

Abdullahi said that Nigeria could not afford to be a layback at this time and while waiting for vaccine to be developed by scientists, Nigerians possess profound intellect and competencies to tackle COVID-19.

He assured that the Federal Government, together with relevant ministries, would work together.

In her welcome address, Dr Rose Gidado, Lead Strategic Partnerships, Hack the Crisis Nigeria, said that the event was aimed at creating awareness, preventing and reducing the incidence of infections.

She said other aims were to support the management of infections as well as flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection through a Hackathon project.

She disclosed that the Hackathon project was a three-day exclusive online innovation event, to inspire and spur every citizen of Nigeria, especially the youths, in thinking of real solutions to curbing the crisis.

She said the project was supported by Global Stakeholders, such as Accelerate Estonia, Garage 48 Estoniaand and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Others include the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and other experts.

Gidado, also Country Coordinator, Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa, Nigeria chapter, as well as Deputy Director, NABDA, said all hands must be on deck to win the fight against the disease.

“The winning teams at the event will get the opportunity to present their solutions to investors, philanthropic funds and policymakers to effect a positive change needed in the crisis,” she said.

Meanwhile, NITDA has said that the country needs more women and girls to build careers in the ICT sector for fair representation and socio-economic development.

Mrs Hadiza Umar, NITDA Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, said this in a statement issued in Abuja late last week to commemorate this year’s “Girls in ICT Day”.

The Girls in ICT Day was initiated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2014, to create a global environment that empowers girls and young women to consider careers in ICT.

It is marked every fourth Thursday in April.

According to her, building a career in ICT makes one reliant economically, improve lives, contributes to better healthcare, environmental management, communication, enhanced educational system and learning processes.

Umar said that jobs in the future would be driven by technology and innovation.

“NITDA is drawing attention to the critical need for more girls and women to participate actively in the ICT sector of our economy.

“The ITU had estimated skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the ICT sector within the next few years.

“This opens a huge opportunity for girls and young women who have the ability to learn Coding, Apps Development, Computer Science and other ICT related courses.

“This will not only make them ready for a successful career in the ICT sector, but ICT skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in any other field they might choose to pursue.

“We must be proactive in preparing a significant number of our women and girls’ population for these opportunities, for productivity and enable them contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country,” she said.

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