NITDA will drive Nigeria’s participation in Gitex
The acting Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Ashiru Daura took the mantle of leadership few months ago at the government agency entrusted with the implementation of the National IT policy. In this interaction with IT Edge News crew of SEGUN ORUAME and MARTIN EKPEKE at the Nigerian Pavilion during GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, UAE, he speaks on Nigeria’s participation and NITDA’s intention to expose Nigerian products and tech entrepreneurs to the world.
Having gone round GITEX exhibition, what is your impression about the event and how does it relate to your own goals for NITDA?
I think coming to GITEX is quiet interesting. This is my first time of coming and there are a lot of things to see and learn from. I think the impression is to encourage our own companies especially the young ones to participate and show their products and services just like other countries have done. Of course, we will always learn from others. I saw some young people from a university in Kenya. If our young ones come here, they will learn a lot.
There are other Nigerian companies exhibiting in GITEX but not in the Nigerian pavilion. It seems they are not coordinated, how is NITDA set to change this perception issue and bring Nigerian companies together?
GITEX is being coordinated by ITAN, they asked for our support and we did give our support. But after coming to this event, from what I have seen, there is a need for NITDA to drive Nigeria’s participation. NITDA as a government agency forms government’srepresentation of IT in Nigeria, we are in the best position to bring all sorts of opinion and people from the industry to this event, they know they have a business interest with us, so they will listen to us, unlike if it is some other industry players. They will not be able to mobilize them the way we will be able to. Not just that, as you can see in many of the government’s stand, there are export and import promotion agencies, so we need to bring everybody here. NITDA, God’s willing should be able to do that next year.
How do you intend to galvanise private and public companies from Nigeria for 2014 Gitex?
NITDA is in position to easily bring both government and the private sector together; they will listen to us. NITDA is in position to express the potential of Gitex to expose our young and the older companies to global opportunities. It is about growing opportunities internationally ffor our local IT companies and we think we can leverage on Gitex to achieve that. We will collaborate with Gitex, mobilize everybody here in Nigeria and explain what Gitex is all about to them. That will be the beginning of the mobilization.
How does NITDA hope to use ICT4D to achieve vision 2020?
Vision 2020 is very much in our ICT4D document. Most of what is mentioned in vision 2020 is taken from ICT4D document, so ICT4D is there in vision 2020. We will do our part, we are already on course, we are trying to execute the plan, it was slow before but now we are more rigorous with it to see that we achieve those goals and objectives set in the plan.
What is NITDA’s plan to incubate the several Nigerian companies that are scattered by ways of policies and financial support?
We have policies to support the growth of any indigenous company that is coming up with software or hardware. NITDA is supposed to certify such companies. So through that we bring all OEMs to collaborate, we had a meeting with OEMs and we discussed the way to move the industry forward, we discussed the problems and the fears expressed by Nigerian consumers. We mentioned it to the OEMs and we agreed to collaborate on how things can be done in a better way, setting standards and service delivery.
What is your take home from GITEX that you can tie up with eNigeria 2013?
The theme of eNigeria 2013 is local content implementation. Now, from what I have seen here, I got encouragement, from all the countries that are exhibiting so far, each of these countries are showing their local products. That really gives me a lot of challenge and encouragement, we want Nigerians to also show their local products, and they can only do it by encouraging local content. The framework is already there, it is the implementation that is on course now. This is the only way we can encourage our local players so that they come and exhibit in a place like this, the policy framework will be presented in the conference or even before the conference, and people will see the steps and guidelines that must be followed.
NITDA as a government agency forms government’s representation of IT in Nigeria, we are in the best position to bring all sorts of opinion and people from the industry to this event, they know they have a business interest with us, so they will listen to us, unlike if it is some other industry players.
….Our mandate at NITDA
Weeks back before the Gitex event in Dubai, Dr. Daura had an interactive session with members of the ICT Publishers Alliance. These are excerpts from that interaction.
What is the focus and mandate of NITDA?
NITDA is a regulatory and developmental agency which is not doing what it ought to have been doing. Our concern is to concentrate on the regulatory mandate of the agency, so that we can separate the grains from the chaff in IT development. Another area of NITDA’s mandate is research which is very important in the development of IT. In Nigerian universities, you see people doing one thing or another. We clearly don’t have research institutes that are solely doing research on IT. We are laying emphasis on that and other areas of NITDA’s mandate to further reach out to underserved areas in IT so that IT can take over the country. Another area to concentrate on is building IT for job creation and web creation like software development and incubation etc so that there is more interest and income to the country from IT. These are the areas of focus.
As the clearing house of IT in government, does NITDA has any input in the various government agencies activity like NIMC and the Nigeria Police before initiating or executing their IT related projects?
Ideally like you said we should be the clearinghouse but in many instances some of these agencies just go ahead with their projects without liaison with us. Every other person also needs to come to us. We are also laying emphasis on that too. We are reaching out to the Bureau of Public Procurement to make sure that clause is put in any IT contract award pronouncement, so that any IT procurement process must go through NITDA before it is allowed to pass, whether it is from the police or other government agencies. We are actually working on that now. But I have to admit that NITDA has been involved in some cases. NITDA was part of the process that led to the creation of NIMC. Some of our staff participated in the data capturing process of NIMC.
What is NITDA’s plan for software application development?
In software, we have a policy. One of the things we will be doing in the next few weeks will be to inaugurate a committee that will come up with a strategic action plan on that policy.. Later on inaugurate a committee which will bring strategic plan to faithfully implement the policy so that software can boost the economy of the country like in other countries. Secondly, we are setting up software development centres through our parent ministry, the ministry of communication technology. We have established two software incubation centres in Lagos and Calabar. We are planning to establish same in other geo-political zones. We hope in 2015 these incubation centres will have created 25 IT entrepreneurs. We also have plans for software testing. We will set up software testing lab to validate any software we are using in the country.