By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has said that the wisdom behind the NITDA ‘Start-Up Friday’ is to identify young innovators who have potentials and see how they can be supported to achieve their dreams.
Pantami announced this on Tuesday at ‘Start-Up Friday’ workshop organised by the agency in collaboration with the Petroleum Trust and Development Fund, PTDF, in Abuja.
He said the workshop which has been going round the six geo-political zones of the country is to enable NITDA tap into the huge population of the country, which has 65percent of the population as digital and IT savvy youth.
He said NITDA is poised to identify the talented youths from all nooks and crannies of the country and give them the needed support to excel in their chosen areas of strength.
“We called this event Startup Friday but we are moving from one geo-political zone to the other; we did one in North-West, South-West, North-East and South-South and this is Abuja, North-Central and from here we will be moving to South-East.
“The wisdom behind this is to identify our young innovators who have potentials and see how they can be supported to achieve their dreams. Because Nigeria is blessed with a population of over 190 million people and 65percent of this population is the youth, they are digital natives and they are ICT savvy. So we felt they have potentials and this is to identify them and see how these potentials can be transform into reality.
“This is a deliberate effort in order to migrate from a resource based economy to being a knowledge based economy (digital economy).
“The benefits of this workshop are that we identify them, we see the relevance of their ideas to Nigeria and Nigerians, we then mentor them and sponsor them to international events and if their ideas are developed we direct relevant Ministries and agencies of government to patronize what they have developed.
“If you are able to come up with an automated solution to a manual problem; NITDA will make sure that the relevant agency of government is directed or encouraged to patronize the product. This means we are discouraging capital flight by developing what we need and consuming it.
“We can only support our economy by spending our money on our fellow citizens. This is because we don’t like the situation where all our ICT money goes abroad. So far, NITDA has 10 Start-ups but within this period of time as we are having the fifth one here, we have 1557 Start-ups so far who have participated,” the DG explained.
One of the panelist at the event, Dr. Yemi Okeremi, who spoke on the sourcing of funds for Startups, said, “for us to we must start consuming what we produce and patronize our local IT innovators, and by so doing, they would be getting patronage for their products”.
According to him, capital, sometimes is not about money but social, stating that local consumption will help us stimulate our economy.
“The first point of call is to look at the Silicon valley. If we start consuming what we produce, we will be helping our local producers to produce more.
“Capital sometimes is not about money, it can be social sometimes. Local consumption will help us stimulate our economy.
Dr. Junaidu Muhammad said we need to reform our ways of teaching to be able to get the best out of our young and talented youth.
“We must make sure we link what we teach and business. There is need for synergy between the academia and the industry. If we adopt synergy, graduates we will produce will have prerequisite skills needed after school and they will overcome the challenge of funding.”