Viewpoint

April 17, 2024

SRAP 2.0: Renewing Nigeria’s hope through digital prosperity, global competitiveness

SRAP 2.0: Renewing Nigeria’s hope through digital prosperity, global competitiveness

By Mubarak Umar

In a world characterised by rapid technological evolution and ever-increasing global interconnectedness, initiatives that leverage innovation to drive economic growth and societal progress are more critical than ever. Across continents, governments, private organisations and individuals have embraced digital technologies to connect, collaborate, and innovate like never before.

Countries have recognised the potential of digital innovation and have embarked on ambitious initiatives to harness its power for driving economic growth and societal transformation. Advanced economies such as the United States, Japan, and those in Western Europe view digitalisation as synonymous with economic competitiveness.

These countries boast of vibrant ecosystems of tech startups, world-class research institutions, and supportive regulatory frameworks that foster entrepreneurship and technological progress. In Nigeria, one such initiative is the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA’s) Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0), designed to spearhead Nigeria’s digital journey from 2024 to 2027.

SRAP 2.0 emerged as a ‘Renewed Hope’ for Nigerians, promising to transform economies through technological innovation while aligning with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s redefined priorities, one of which is ‘Accelerate diversification through industrialisation, digitisation, creative arts, manufacturing & innovation.’

Through President Tinubu’s Eight Priority Areas, Nigeria can see a vision for the future, one anchored in the principles of inclusive growth and sustainable development. The Renewed Hope Agenda represents a comprehensive roadmap for realising this vision, outlining strategic priorities and policy measures aimed at unleashing the full potential of the nation’s economy and its people.

Central to President Tinubu’s agenda is the recognition of technology as a catalyst for economic transformation and social progress. In this context, SRAP 2.0 emerged as a natural ally, embodying a commitment to harnessing the power of innovation to address pressing societal challenges and unlock new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

SRAP 2.0 also aligned with the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy’s strategic objectives, to ensure that all its initiatives significantly contribute to Nigeria’s broader digital economy strategy. This alignment shows how the SRAP 2.0 document is seamlessly integrated with the Ministry’s strategic pillars: Knowledge, Policy, Infrastructure, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Capital, and Trade.

The document not only embodies NITDA’s strategic goals but also reflects a synchronised effort with the Ministry’s vision, driving towards a resilient, inclusive, and prosperous digital Nigeria. At its core, SRAP 2.0 represents a collaborative endeavour involving governments, corporations, and academic institutions, united by a shared commitment to driving innovation-led economic development.

NITDA acknowledges the profound impact of the rapid global digital transformation on economies and societies worldwide. In an era defined by unprecedented technological advancements, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are reshaping the economic and social life at an unprecedented pace.

The Agency recognises the importance for Nigeria to not only adapt to these changes but to proactively position itself as a leader in digital literacy and tech talent development, ensuring that Nigerians are well-equipped to thrive in the digital era.

Moreover, SRAP 2.0 places a strong emphasis on inclusivity and equitable access to the benefits of technological progress. Initiatives to promote diversity in STEM fields, support small and medium-sized enterprises, and bridge the digital divide are integral components of the document, ensuring that all segments of society can participate in and benefit from the innovation-driven economy of the future.

SRAP 2.0 pillars namely: Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents; Build a Robust Technology Research Ecosystem; Strengthen Policy Implementation and Legal Framework; Promote Inclusive Access to Digital Infrastructure and Services; Strengthen Cybersecurity and Enhance Digital Trust; Nurture an Innovative and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem; Forge Strategic Partnerships and Collaboration; and Cultivate a Vibrant Organisational Culture and an Agile Workforce in NITDA are crafted to build a more resilient and prosperous economy for generations.

The first, Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents will empower Nigerians with the knowledge and skills needed towards achieving a 70% digital literacy level by 2027 through the implementation of the National Digital Literacy Framework (NDLF), and enhancing broad access to digital education. It will also support the implementation of the 3 Million Tech Talents (3MTT) training initiative to prepare Nigerian youth for global digital opportunities, aimed at bridging the international technology talent gap.

Robust Technology Research Ecosystem provides a fertile ground for innovation to flourish. By supporting research institutions, universities, and technology hubs, the country will have an environment conducive to breakthrough discoveries and technological advancements. This can lead to the development of new products, services, and solutions that address pressing challenges and open up new opportunities for economic growth and competitiveness.

Strengthen Policy Implementation and Legal Framework provides clarity and certainty for businesses, investors, and innovators operating in the technology sector. Clear and consistent regulations help foster trust and confidence in the market, encouraging investment and innovation. Through collaborative policy implementation, Nigeria is set to create a regulatory environment that promotes innovation while safeguarding against potential risks and abuses.

Fourth, Nigeria, like many other countries, faces a significant digital divide, with disparities in access to digital infrastructure and services between urban and rural areas, as well as among different socio-economic groups. Promoting Inclusive Access to Digital Infrastructure and Services will bridge this gap, and ensure that all citizens have equitable access to essential digital resources and opportunities.

It sets to deploy of blockchain solutions in MDAs to foster transparency and efficiency in governance, achieve 40% women digital inclusion, establishment of digital learning centres and innovation hubs nationwide, promote 4th Industrial Revolution technology solutions and talents into agriculture to boost food security, improve agriculture’s contribution to GDP, and drive economic diversification, and creation of technology development zones by 2027.

Strengthening Cybersecurity and Enhancing Digital Trust will help safeguard Nigeria’s critical infrastructure. Enhanced cybersecurity capabilities will help the country combat cybercrime effectively, including online fraud, identity theft, phishing scams, and cyberattacks targeting individuals, businesses, and government institutions.

The sixth pillar, Nurture an Innovative and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem encourages creativity and problem-solving. It will nurture a culture of innovation through supportive policies, funding opportunities, and collaboration spaces. It will inspire entrepreneurs, researchers, and inventors to develop novel solutions to complex challenges in various sectors, and attract investment to diversify the economy.

It is pivotal for advancing Nigeria’s socio-economic development and global competitiveness. Innovation and entrepreneurship are the engines of growth, driving competitiveness and economic diversification. This strategic pillar aims to transform Nigeria into a hub for IT products and services, enhancing ICT’s contribution to the GDP and fostering a dynamic ecosystem that propels economic growth.

The seventh, Forge Strategic Partnerships and Collaboration is instrumental in advancing Nigeria’s digital economy by leveraging the strengths and expertise of diverse stakeholders. Strategic partnerships will help the country to tap into the resources of international organisations, multinational corporations, and research institutions.

NITDA intends to actively participate in six global platforms for policy discussions and talent exposure, showcasing Nigeria’s tech advancements and policy frameworks by 2027. It aims to enhance partnerships and community engagement by 150% by 2027, fostering an ecosystem conducive to innovation and inclusive development

Lastly, Cultivating a Vibrant Organisational Culture and Nurturing an Agile Workforce are paramount to the agency’s pursuit of organisational excellence. This pillar underscores the importance of fostering an environment that encourages learning, psychological safety, and adaptability, ensuring that the workforce is prepared to meet the dynamic challenges of the digital age.

NITDA’s commitment to a learning and psychologically safe environment sets it apart, enabling it to attract and retain top talent while fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation. This approach not only enhances employee engagement and productivity but also positions the agency as a leader in organisational culture within the public sector.

However, the success of NITDA’s strategic roadmap will depend on effective implementation, stakeholder collaboration, and sustained political will as demonstrated by President Tinubu. As Nigeria embarks on this ambitious journey towards economic diversification, it is important that all stakeholders remain committed to realising the vision of a modern, resilient, and innovation-driven economy.

Mubarak Umar writes from Abuja