By Wole Alao
The 5G network, which is currently driving the world toward the 4th Industrial Revolution, has been described as very crucial to bringing the people together in a global village. The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, made this disclosure at the Virtual Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2021, as a panelist, where the evolution of 5G networks and Internet of things (IoT) in Africa was discussed.
He said his Agency, in her Strategic Road Map and Action Plan 2021-2024, has identified the importance of promoting and exploiting emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, IoT, etc. The Director Genera,l who was represented by the Ag. Director, Digital Economic Development department of the Agency, Engr Salisu Kaka, said that NITDA is a critical player under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy that is committed to implementing the Nigerian Digital Economic Policy and Strategy.
“In that policy, there is need to develop a digital Nigeria by exploiting emerging technologies,” the DG averred. He further stated that promotion of the emerging technologies will create more jobs and improve the economy of the country.
“There are deliberate attempts to set up mechanisms that will coordinate these emerging technologies, which will lead to the engagement of the society, especially the youth, innovators and the entrepreneurs,” said Abdullahi. He stated that it was imperative to engage this particular group of people because they are the direct beneficiaries of the enormous data generated by the Internet of Things, 5G technologies and Big Data Analytics.
The DG mentioned that the Agency has set up the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence as well as the Office of Nigerian Digital Innovation which will both create enabling environments that will allow exploration of these technologies and ensure effective use.
Mallam Abdullahi stated further that innovations come with disruptions of normal processes, and was therefore, necessary to come up with regulations. He said that the government’s responsibility is to ensure that policy provisions are put in place to ensure inclusion of private business owners. “Private business owners don’t exploit where there is no potential, so, it is important for government to put in place interventions that will be attractive” the DG added.
He said that the Agency developed an initiative called, ‘National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA)’, with the aim of bringing emerging technologies, such as the IoT’s and the 5G technology into the agricultural sector.
“We piloted this initiative in 2019 and 2020 and it has given great results”, Abdullahi stated. He further disclosed that another initiative; the ‘National Adopted Schools for Smart Education (NASSE)’, was launched by the agency with the aim of incorporating these emerging technologies into the educational sector as well, and expanding the potentials of the sector.
The Director General mentioned that the regulatory approach adopted by the Agency, which is a developmental regulation, is essential in creating a plain level ground for business regulations where these emerging technologies will be effectively utilized, thereby realizing the economic diversification of the Nation and the African continent at large.
“In NITDA, we have refocused our process of making these policies user friendly, because it encourages participation of the private sector and the society, towards the development of these regulatory provisions for the 5G technology and other emerging technologies, which is why we refer to it as developmental regulations,” the DG concluded.