Pantami lists benefits of new National Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship Centre

February 4, 2021
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The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has reeled out the benefits Nigeria stands to gain from the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the centre located in Abuja was held on Thursday, where the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his support on the project and the approval of the building.

Pantami said the President approved the building of the centre on the 11th of November 2020 during the FEC meeting after he made a detailed presentation to the Council on the project and successfully answered around 22 questions in the robust debate that followed the presentation.

He explained that 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.

“The Centre will be based on the ‘live, work and learn’ concept. The activities of the centre align with 6 out of the 8 pillars of our National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria.

“These include Pillar #2 (Digital Skills), Pillar #4 (Service Infrastructure), Pillar #5 (Digital Services Development and Promotion), Pillar #6 (Soft Infrastructure), Pillar #7 (Digital Society and Emerging Technologies) and Pillar #8 (Indigenous Content Development and Adoption).

“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).

“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.

“To further illustrate this, imagine the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a nation of IDEs. A 2015 Report notes that such an ‘MIT-nation’ would have been the world’s 10th largest economy, with gross revenue falling between the GDP of Russia ($2.097 trillion) and India ($1.877 trillion)!

“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.”

Speaking further, the Minister said that there are several benefits that Nigerians will enjoy from this Centre and I will mention a few of them.

He said these benefits include: To 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; 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 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.

“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 said.

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