The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has directed agencies under the ministry to provide research grants for Nigerian startups for the development of digital solutions.
Pantami made the remarks during the virtual final demo and prize-giving day of the Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Pantami said this became necessary considering the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy in the post Coronavirus era.
He said the pandemic has provided an opportunity for Nigeria young innovators to place the country on the path to digital economic development.
Pantami said ICT innovation was a perfect tool to ensure social distancing and contact tracing of COVID 19 patients. He stated that the present administration was determined to leverage digital platforms and opportunities for the betterment of the economy in the post-COVID-19 era.
The agencies concerned include the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite Systems, Galaxy Backbone and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
“With COVID19, there is a need to fast-track the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, adding that “ICT will play a great role in supporting contact tracing and physical distancing in the war against the virus”, the minister disclosed.
In his address, the Director-General of NITDA, Malam Inuwa Abdullahi, said the Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge was initiated and conceptualised to open opportunities for innovators under lockdown.
He added that it had provided “a sense of stability for us to work virtually while our world has been under lockdown.”
Abdullahi said: “We are prioritising digital solution because that is the only thing working during this pandemic.
“And the pandemic is accelerating technology trends shaping the future of the digital world and digital economy in general.
“Imagine being in this crisis without digital technology. Our life would have been miserable, therefore our recovery and exit strategy should be based on what is working now.
“As a nation, we can have all the technologies and talent but to extract value we need clear objectives and mechanism.
“Our broader objective is fast recovery to normal and our mechanism is our National Digital Economy Strategy and plan which highlights initiatives for Digital Nigeria”.
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