Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi has called for stronger partnership between the ICT industry and tertiary institutions so as to enhance the digital skills of Nigerian students.
Abdullahi told the audience at the recent Huawei Education Summit (THES2022) in Abuja that an ICT industry – academia partnership has become expedient to developing required digital skill sets and bringing the benefits to thousands of students.
According to him, NITDA as the apex IT regulator in Nigeria under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, is committed to ensuring that efforts in this regard are supported and sustained.
“We cannot go far as a nation if ICT adoption in our tertiary institutions is not systemic and coherent. The world is becoming digital and tertiary institutions are where our leaders of tomorrow come from. Hence, we must do everything possible to empower them,” said Abdullahi at the event. He was represented by Director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions (ITIS), Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi.
The Huawei Education Summit with the theme: ‘New Approach in Meeting Rising Educational Expectation’ held in response to trends in Nigeria’s higher education sector and increasing relevance of technology to research, learning and teaching.
Abdullahi said available statistics have shown that about 65% of Nigerians are aged 35 years or younger and they are mostly considered to be the millennial generation, a highly-skilled tech-savvy generation. This underscored why the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg during his visit to Nigeria in 2016, asserted that he was blown away with the talents he saw in the country.
Abdullahi said developing digital skills for Africans and particularly Nigerian students is significant for the development and industrialisation of the continent, adding that Nigerian students are digital natives; what they need is an enabling environment.
His words: “This can be seen in the successes recorded by Nigerian students in global competitions, especially the Huawei Global ICT Competition series.
“You may recall that at the fourth series, the Nigerian team won the first prize in the Regional Final in South Africa and the third place in the Global Final while at the fifth series, three Nigerian teams entered the Global Final and won the Grand Prize in the Practice Competition in both the Network Track and the Cloud Track.”
He also noted that the importance of ICT informed the identification of the Digital Literacy and Skills pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS, 2020-30), as the policy has an ambitious target of attaining 95% digital literacy and skills by 2030.
“It is plain to see that acquiring digital skills and gaining new qualifications is the key to success in the modern age; whether you are a new entrant looking to climb the career ladder, the founder of a startup, or a senior executive in charge of a large team, failure to keep up with the times could prove disastrous. Regardless of where in the world you find yourself, regardless of the place you start, opportunity can be open for all in the digital economy”, said the NITDA boss.
He said “NITDA, as one of the implementing agencies of the ministry, has been carrying out series of intervention programmes in tertiary institutions. These include the deployment of ICT parks and innovation hubs, hive centres and centres of cyber security research.”
Abdullahi commended Huawei Technologies for its commitment to promoting ICT development in Nigeria noting: “Huawei’s effort at digital literacy and skills in the country in some was is to help the Agency achieve its mandates. Our presence here shows how committed we are in in the realisation of NDEPS’ vision of transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and digital economies for all as well as the mission of building a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship are used to create value and prosperity for all.”
The event provided a window to highlight the challenges in higher education system with a view to setting up agenda for education professionals, industry, government and regulatory bodies to advance a way forward.