By Mubarak Umar
The outcome of any ideation, roadmap and strategy is turning the vision into a reality. This requires facilitation and engagement of action plan to ensure everyone understands their contribution to high impact goals and what they can do to achieve it together – working even asynchronously. The development of a four-year Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan has therefore become an integral process of operation in National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The aim of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan 2021-2024 (SRAP) is to give direction to the initiatives of the Agency and realign its operations towards new vision; “to proactively facilitate the development of Nigeria into a sustainable digital economy”. The plan involves an evaluation of the previous plan, a visioning process to refocus the Agency along the lines of the government policies, current state of the IT industry, future trends, and current aspirations of the citizenry and the general intendment of government.
It may be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, mandated the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and all its parastatals to facilitate the use of digital technology to expand and diversify Nigeria’s economy. At the Ministry, this is a task that must be achieved by refocusing efforts on facilitating the adoption of digital technologies.
To execute the Presidential mandate, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) directed all parastatals in the Ministry to develop strategies, programs and initiatives to ensure the attainment of the expected gains of expanding the digital space in Nigeria. Part of the expectations is for the Parastatals to develop individual strategies in line with relevant institutional mandates and goals of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to achieve a Digital Nigeria
NITDA, in following the directive of the Honourable Minister has strategically aligned its plan for the next four years with the visionary thinking behind the NDEPS. The new vision of NITDA is to articulate continuous improvement introduced by the then Director General, now Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. Therefore, for NITDA to remain relevant as IT regulator in the country, and the role it has been playing in the IT industry, it must align with the current trends and cultures of digitalization. The vision is a strategic response to the re-designation of the Ministry and the expansion of its mandate to include the transformation of the country into a digital economy.
The Agency adjusts and realigns its internal structures in a manner that would support the new vision and help to drive its attainment. That is why NITDA is undergoing a restructuring process that has seen the redefinition of departmental functions and the refocusing of the operational mandate of some departments. The restructuring is to specifically tailor operations towards key aspects of SRAP while at the same time improving the efficiency and effectiveness of internal operations and governance.
The restructuring process has also seen the creation of a new department of digital economy in compliance with the directive of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, and in accordance with the Agency’s new vision.
The NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) for 2021-2024 has been inspired by the vision of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS). The NDEPS, which was developed to reposition the Nigerian economy in order to take advantage of the many opportunities that digital technologies provide, is based on 8-pillars for the acceleration of the National Digital Economy. These pillars align with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and its successor Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government as well as the priorities assigned to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
In developing SRAP 2021 – 2024, some policies of Government and public documents were consulted. These policies and documents include the NDEPS, Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), Tech4COVID Committee Report, National Broadband Plan, Cybersecurity Policy, National eGovernment Master Plan, NITDA Act, amongst others. These documents were collated to get right direction of the government on pertinent issues of the digital economy and nation building.
SRAP is being drive by three-pronged objectives, which are: to articulate a new strategy for NITDA in consonance with the current aspirations of Government, the realities of today and the demands of the future; to contribute its quota towards the implementation of NDEPS especially within the framework of its mandate and; to implement programs that would facilitate the digital transformation of Nigeria.
In developing the new strategy for NITDA, certain considerations were made. In terms of alignment, consideration was given to the NDEPS and its vision of transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy. Other considerations include the grey areas that must be addressed in transforming Nigeria’s Digital Economy; the need to have SMART objectives and the importance of having an implementation structure that will ensure the successful implementation of the strategy.
The overall strategy was based on the seven strategic pillars and their respective objectives. Other components of the strategy include implementable and granular initiatives that were created with relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). This will ensure that the progress of the achievements of the goals of these pillars is properly measured, evaluated and monitored. It will also help in identifying and addressing issues that may be associated with the implementation of the roadmap.
The seven strategic pillars identified by the Agency as the fulcrum for the Roadmap are: 1) Developmental Regulation; 2) Digital Literacy and Skills; 3) Digital Transformation; 4) Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship; 5) Cybersecurity; 6) Emerging Technologies and; 7) Promotion of Indigenous Content.
Consequently, the above pillars have been listed in line with the arrangement of the NDEPS pillars; each of the pillars has been broken down into strategic initiatives that speak to its goal. The resultant initiatives were further fragmented into activities and an implementation plan was in turn developed for these initiatives. Also, a results monitoring framework was developed for identified key performance indicators of each of the initiatives.
To create an enabling environment, through frameworks, standards, guidelines, and regulatory instruments that unlocks opportunities in the digital economy across all sectors.
Digital Literacy and Skills
To intervene in the development of digital technology by supporting, promoting and facilitating digital skills and literacy programs through the development and adoption of digital literacy standards for Nigeria.
To assess, evaluate and advise on the use of digital technology anchored on the transformation of government processes and services by leveraging on digital technologies.
Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Create an ecosystem for Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDE) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to thrive.
To strengthen the cyberspace and reduce vulnerabilities exploitable by threat actors.
Facilitate the adoption and adaptation of emerging technologies in Nigeria, and determine critical areas in Information Technology that requires research, intervention and development.
Promotion of Indigenous Content
To create opportunities and enabling framework for the development and adoption of homegrown innovation for a digital economy.
Similarly, SRAP introduces dynamism to project implementation through the workstream approach of project delivery. This approach reinforces internal collaboration with a view to fostering external cooperation. NITDA believes that with new approach, the implementation of the various initiatives will be properly coordinated, communicated and concluded thereby ensuring that the goal of achieving a sustainable digital economy as well as contributing to the creation of jobs for our teeming youths is achieved.