Public, Private Partnerships (PPP) will be critical to accelerating Nigeria’s digital economy, Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi has said while supporting the establishment of digital innovation hubs in Nigeria.

“PPPs are critical instruments for innovation in all sectors of the economy; they help governments become more inventive by creating a space outside the government structure that allows innovation to flourish.”

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“They also help to inject a broader set of skills and talents, as well as a more diligent and responsive work culture into the government machinery and to create a solid foundation for innovative thinking and creativity,” said Abdullahi.

He spoke recently while delivering a keynote address on the topic ‘Public, Private Partnerships: Drivers of Digital Innovation in Nigeria’ at the formal launch of the initiative by the Digital Transformation Centre (DTC) of the German International Cooperation (GIZ).

“Digital innovation hubs are the surest way to help lift Nigerians out of poverty and support the government in its economic diversification efforts, through the creation or more innovation-driven enterprises (IDEs)”, said Abdullahi. He was represented by the Lagos Office Head of the NITDA, Barrister Chioma Oke-Aguguo.

According to the NITDA boss, as Nigeria continues its steady recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, it is evident that the successes recorded from the rigorous implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) must be sustained through PPPs critical role players in accelerating Nigeria’s digital economic transformation.

He said according to “the World Bank, PPPs are a mechanism for the government to procure and implement public infrastructure and/or services using the resources and expertise of the private sector; Where governments are facing aging or lack of infrastructure and require more efficient services, a partnership with the private sector can help foster new solutions and bring finance.

“PPPs combine the skills and resources of both the public and private sectors through sharing of risks and responsibilities. This enables governments to benefit from the expertise of the private sector and allows them to focus instead on policy, planning, and regulation by delegating day-to-day operations.”

Abdullahi commended the GIZ for the laudable initiative, noting that the idea is aimed at engaging stakeholders in the Nigerian innovation ecosystem, helping them to understand the Digital Innovation Hub concept, and generating interest from prospective entrepreneurs and innovators.

He said it is only through initiatives like the one proposed that the nation’s startup businesses will be able to emerge from the pandemic and grow into globally competitive companies; even as he assured that as the NITDA will always identify with initiatives aimed at boosting the growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

Abdullahi affirmed that since 2020, the Nigerian government has invested heavily to provide the much-needed digital infrastructure, digital services and platforms, as well as digital literacy and skills for all citizens, towards transforming the country into a world-class digital economy.

His words: “This digital transformation has enabled rapid development across the country, positively impacting virtually all sectors of the economy, which has resulted in higher performance and efficiency, creation of new digital jobs and indigenous IT innovations, and has boosted economic growth in the country with an unprecedented GDP contribution, by the ICT sector, of 18.4% in the 2nd Quarter of 2022.”

Abdullahi added that “the engagement of PPPs in Nigeria will require an enabling environment for dedicated public and private sector champions that address the challenges of digital infrastructure development head-on”.

“The Nigeria Public-Private Partnership Network (NPPPN) was established in 2011 through collaboration between the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Lagos State Public Private Partnership (PPP) office, and the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) to create a platform for all States (sub-nationals), Heads of PPP Units nationwide under the Chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.”

He said the “Public Private Partnership Units Consultative Forum (3PUCF) was also established in 2013 as a forum designed to provide a platform for Heads of PPP Units in Federal MDAs for knowledge and experience sharing; ensuring symmetry of effort towards institutionalizing FGN PPP programme, provision of training and educational intervention among others, and meets quarterly,’ under the Chairmanship of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. ICRC also acts as the Secretariat.”

He reiterated NITDA’s commitment towards being open to work with private sector partners that are committed to the development of digital innovation hubs in order to expand the tech innovation ecosystem in Nigeria.

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