DG NITDA dines, discusses with Startup Executives in Lagos

Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of NITDA flanked by startups and entrepreneurs during a Dinner/meeting with Lagos Ecosystem (Source: TechEconomy NG)

The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, has reaffirmed the Agency’s dedication to providing the startup ecosystem with the necessary support in order to increase the sector’s economic contribution and strengthen the value chain.

He made the commitment while having dinner with some of the major players in the Lagos Ecosystem, such as executives from Microsoft, MasterCard, and Norebase, among others.

Inuwa while clamoring for trust between the Government and the startup ecosystem deliberated on the best way to accelerate growth and support startups in the country, said “there are lots of distrust within the government and the ecosystem, so much that the only way to engender trust between the two entities is to have this conversation”.

The Director-General emphasized the need for cross-sector collaborations to establish a speedier and more sustainable digital economy while assuring the group of his unwavering support for the startup ecosystem, which he stated would be his return base upon retirement from government service.

“We cannot succeed in isolation; we need each other to succeed. Innovation is not distributed evenly across the world. Innovation and the digital economy are about humans”.

A company is as good as its next product and its products are as good as the person or people who make them. This underscores the relevance of talents. If you don’t have the requisite skills and talents, then it is no deal”, he added.

Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of NITDA, speaking during a Dinner with some Lagos Startups Executives (Source: TechEconomy NG)

The DG seized the opportunity to share his thoughts on different issues bordering on investments, partnerships, commercialisation of innovations, enabling policies and acquisition of relevant skills as well as training.

“At NITDA, we are reenacting our act and laws to make it more robust so that we protect the ecosystem”, Inuwa stated.

The NITDA Boss whose friendly demeanour gave the forum some sort of a relaxed atmosphere was keen on listening to their opinions and suggestions on how to get the ecosystem to perform much better.

“The sector we are in is dynamic and we must move with its pace, so we don’t play catch-ups or get left far behind. We must disrupt the way we do things and bring to bear professionalism, innovations that will solve indigenous problems but have global impact”, the DG urged.

Some of the representatives discussed a variety of issues and areas of expertise as they took turns sharing their thoughts and difficulties, such as requesting government assistance in the development of hardware space, funding, talent, procurements, local content enforcement, mitigating gateways, policy timing and changes, data protection and management, digital skills framework, standardization, and other areas of concern.

In response to their comments and inquiries, the Director-General went into great detail about the initiatives taken by NITDA, which operates under the direction of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and, consequently, the Federal Government, to address the majority of the topics under discussion.

The Start-up Bill was also on the front burner of his response as the DG quickly reminded them that most of the concerns raised would soon be rested, given the recent passage of the Bill into law by the National Assembly.

He promised the startups that the bill will be implemented swiftly and effectively to address the obstacles encountered and, in doing so, accelerate the ecosystem’s anticipated growth.

Additionally, Inuwa called attention to the Code of Practice for Interactive Platforms as another document that is anticipated to encourage adequate monitoring to ensure compliance with long-established legislation governing the sector, while also soliciting their input into the document.

We need to decide what and what are the right regulations so that every startup and industry player would have a Code of Practice that works for everyone and is adhered to the latter. Also, I think we need to form a union for Startup Ecosystem”, Inuwa added.

The engagement with the Lagos ecosystem came to a close with an agreement by all parties to forge ahead against all odds but not just as an ecosystem but as a forte prepared for future tasks.

The meeting was part of NITDA’s stride towards making Nigeria a talent hub for Africa and possibly the digital world, especially as there are several reports indicating a global talent shortage.


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