In the wake of Coronavirus pandemic and its socio-economic impact globally, over 14,000 active students are enrolled for 47 different courses across emerging technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and many more at the virtual NITDA Academy.
The academy, an initiative of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was launched by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, last month.
NITDA Director General, Kashifu Abdullahi, disclosed this at a Virtual Conversation organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on the Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID19 on Telecom and ICT sector in Nigeria.
The event was well attended by key stakeholders within and outside the shores of Nigeria, as they deliberated on how the Coronavirus crisis affected the economy and ways to cope with the impact using ICT.
Mr Abdullahi said it was under the directive of the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy that the Agency conceptualised, executed and launched a NITDA Virtual Learning platform with the aim to help engage young citizens to spend their time meaningfully and learn new technologies that will help create and shape the post-COVID era.
Despite the effect of the virus in all sectors, Mr Abdullahi remains hopeful the crisis, which forced people to change behaviour and adapt to new habits, will soon become a thing of the past.
“Coronavirus has forced us to change our behaviour and adapt to new habits. New trends have emerged, we do everything remotely; working, learning, meeting, workshops, zoom party, e-wedding, and so on”, he noted.
The DG averred that NITDA has successfully organised various programmes, which among others is COVID-19 Innovation Challenge designed to help in thinking within the box and come up with ideas that can contain and cushion the effect of the virus as well as keep the economy up and running.
“We are working with the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and Nigerian Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) to identify some of the ideas they think are relevant for them, so they can be used as a testing ground to help these start-ups develop their ideas into products,, he said.
He added that, “the Challenge had over 2000 applicant and 5 start-ups were selected for pitching at the Open Demo and Prize Giving Day; three of them emerged winners and went home with their prizes”.
Mr Abdullahi said that it is part of the Agency’s initiatives to identify youths with innovative ideas, take them to innovation hubs, incubate and accelerate their ideas into a product or services through NITDA Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Scheme.
He said “part of the recommendation of the Tech for COVID19 covers what we do, and we are working with relevant stakeholders to identify hubs as well as start-ups that can enjoy this initiative.”
Commenting on using new technologies in farming, the DG stated that the Nigerian Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA), will encourage farmers to focus more on digital platforms and precision smart farming.
“To ensure significant improvement in crop yield, quality of farm produce, efficiency and productivity, increased profit margin, harvest focus, sales of farm produce and eco-friendly agricultural practice. We are working with 150 farmers to start the pilot project, because the agriculture value chain contributed the highest percentage to our GDP and ICT as an enabler can help boost its projection,” he added.