By Ijeoma Olorunfemi
The Federal Government on Thursday, launched the country’s pioneer National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre to create an atmosphere that would usher in innovation driven culture among citizens.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, performed the ground breaking ceremony of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre championed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja.
Pantami said the centre was critical for digital economy and would play a huge role in creating value and prosperity among the people.
He assured that the centre would be replicated at least in the six Geo-Political zones of the country, beginning with the pioneer centre in the FCT.
‘‘Digital Innovation and entrepreneurship are globally recognised as two prerequisites for achieving an indigenous digital economy.
“A successful digital innovation and entrepreneurship programme will support us in the development of our digital economy and this is exactly what we want this centre to achieve.
‘‘Today’s event is critical for our journey to digital economy because in digital economy, innovation and entrepreneurship play huge roles in creating value and prosperity. That is why we are investing in this initiative.
‘‘Our journey started in Oct. 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari re-designated and expanded the mandate of our ministry to cover digital economy.
“To sustain and consolidate the growth, we need to ignite innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital space,” he said.
The minister said that COVID-19 had impacted our lives in an unprecedented way, hence the need to leverage on skills and innovation.
Pantami said that in building the centre, the Federal Government was not undermining certificates but trying to redirect citizens toward soft skills which were recently valuable.
He, therefore, enjoined states and the Organised Private Sector to key into the establishment of ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship parks to address unemployment and other social challenges in Nigeria.
He said this had become necessary to complement the present administration’s resolve to diversify national economy, generate employment and wealth for the country.
Pantami who listed benefits of the centre, argued that the economic challenges facing Nigeria provided opportunities for the people to embrace digital platforms for self empowerment.
“President Buhari approved the building of this centre on Nov. 11, 2020, during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
“Prior to that, I made a detailed presentation to council on the project and successfully answered around 22 questions in the robust debate that followed the presentation.
“The idea received overwhelming support of FEC because of the huge positive impact it can have on the lives of Nigerians,” he said.
Earlier, in his address, the Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said the objective of the centre was to serve as a catalyst for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship among both public and private sector organisations and the academia.
Inuwa said it would foster development along with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) Quantum Computing and Smart Energy Solutions to drive ICT.
According to him, it will provide enabling environment for technology startups to accelerate and experience innovations, foster the development of indigenous businesses to become world class service providers. (NAN)