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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has signed an agreement with Cisco Systems to advance Nigeria’s digital transformation through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program. This global initiative collaborates with government and private sector leaders to develop sustainable, secure, and inclusive communities powered by ethical and innovative technology solutions.

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The partnership aims to unlock the potential of digitalisation in Nigeria and drive an inclusive future. It will involve collaboration between the Nigerian government, Cisco, industry, and academia to accelerate the national digitisation agenda by implementing pilot projects in five key areas: repurposing the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) to create an AI and Cybersecurity Experience and Incubation Center; establishing a Broadband Innovation Centre; setting up a Smart Agriculture Demo Farm; designing and deploying Technology Learning Hubs; and incubating Defense technology solutions.

This initiative aligns with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s priorities of accelerating diversification through digitisation and innovation, strengthening national security, and boosting agriculture to achieve food security.

During the signing of the MoU in Abuja, NITDA Director General Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi emphasized the importance of integrating AI and cybersecurity, stating, “As we develop AI, we also need to design it with security in mind.” He highlighted that broadband is the backbone of digitisation, providing the connectivity necessary for transformation. The innovation hub will encourage local startups to develop affordable broadband solutions using cutting-edge technology.

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“We have a National Broadband Plan that aims to achieve 95 percent broadband coverage in Nigeria, and we need to be smart in the way we do things to achieve this target,” Abdullahi said. He noted that the smart agriculture initiative would enhance food production and productivity through the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and drones.

As part of the Presidential Redefined Priority Areas to achieve food security, the President has mandated the cultivation of 500,000 acres of land, which will require technological support for efficient implementation. Cisco is already working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on a pilot project in Maiduguri, deploying three Learning Centers using Cisco technology. NITDA aims to scale up this initiative to underserved and unserved communities.

Cisco’s Country Director, Mr. Clayton Naidoo, highlighted the benefits of the agreement for Nigeria, including improved agricultural production, job creation, and increased financial stability for citizens. “We want to leverage technology to bring economic opportunities to Nigeria, contributing to economic growth and job creation,” Naidoo stated. He noted that Cisco’s programs, resources, technology, and investment are aligned with Nigeria’s National Digital Agenda.

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Naidoo elaborated on Cisco’s commitment to cybersecurity and AI, partnering with NCAIR to build an experience center in Nigeria. This center will support organizations in building robust cybersecurity and AI architectures through labs, design thinking rooms, and testing equipment.

Cisco will also build a broadband innovation hub in partnership with Galaxy Backbone and NITDA, aligned with the National Broadband Policy. The company will work with Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and various service providers to build networks serving underutilized or marginalized communities. “We believe that with the technology we are building, we will ensure the internet economics are right,” Naidoo added.

The event concluded with a visit to a demo smart farm at the Abuja Technology Village, highlighting the practical applications of these innovative solutions in agriculture.

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