Mal. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General, NITDA
Mal. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General, NITDA

Driving Transformational Change At NITDA
By Bashir Ibrahim Hassan

TECH DIGEST – The young man is only one year in office as the Director-General/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), having assumed the position in August 2019, but he already has a long list of accomplishments for which he claims credit. “The first day I met with my staff as D-G,” Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullah recalls at a recent interview, “what I promised them was to make NITDA a smart organization.”

There’s something about the young man that defines the track record of his career success so far: an unwavering commitment to vision-driven approach to tackling any task before him. At NITDA, the milestones that he achieved are due to his steady implementation of the 7 Pillars of the NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap 2017-2020, which are in sync with the 8 Pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), for achieving a digital Nigeria.

Undoubtedly, the flagship of these achievements has been the implementation of IT Regulation in the sector. Within the period under review, the Agency has successfully implemented an automated IT Project Clearance (ITPC), which resulted in the creation of 272 user accounts, 154 cleared IT Projects of 73 MDAs, thus, saving the Nigerian Federal Government approximately 5 billion naira. Additionally, the leadership of the Director General has facilitated the implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), by creating the NDPR implementation framework and guideline for the management of personal data by public institutions.

This has resulted in the creation of 2,686 job roles; 790 issues resolved; licensing of 59 Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DCPOs); launch of the NDPR portal for filing of audit report which has generated the sum of 12.6 million naira; inauguration of data breach investigation team in conjunction with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), where 15 data breach investigations were conducted. The initiative also gained international recognition, resulting into appointing NITDA as Vice Chair of the African Union Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA).

As a proactive measure towards the realisation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s digital transformation initiatives, NITDA has established a governance structure called Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups (DT-TWGs) across the first set of 124 Federal Public Institutions (FPIs). This is aimed at facilitating effective coordination of the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), Nigeria e-Government Master Plan (NeGMP) and any digital transformation-related activities in the public sector. Furthermore, they are to ensure that all IT projects are designed and implemented in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) and the Nigeria e-Government Inter-operability Framework (NeGIF). The Agency has also initiated an intensive capacity building for the DT-TWG members and hopes to building the capacity of about 500 members in this first set.

In the critical area of human capacity development, NITDA has implemented an ambitious programme in Digital Literacy & Skills, setting up ICT Hubs as well as training and empowerment centres across all geo-political zones of the federation. In these centres, women, youths, artisans, people with disabilities, farmers, students, corps members, intervention centres managers etc. have been trained and provided with working tools.

The Agency has also established the NITDA Academy for Research and Training (NART) to bridge the gap between industry and academia. The Academy’s Virtual Learning Platform, unveiled by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) in April, has so far attracted 24,000 students by August, 2020. Interestingly, from August 2019 to August 2020, analysis of the various programmes of the Agency revealed that a total of 76,044 competencies have so far been developed. These have boosted employment, with beneficiaries of 7,117 jobs/new roles including start-ups, innovators, farmers, techpreneurs, etc.

In the area of cybersecurity, series of sensitization and awareness programmes have been executed. These include stakeholder Consultative Forums, Workshops, Seminars etc., with a view to rebranding Nigeria’s image as well as fostering synergy among stakeholders in the fight against cybercrime. NITDA has also upgraded its Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT) to effectively monitor cyber threats in the country. The NITDA CEO is on record as the first person to issue a fine for data breach in Nigeria’s history.

To actualize the digital economy dream, NITDA has completed the construction of 4 IT Innovation & Incubation Parks in University of Port Harcourt, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, Kogi State University, and Gombe State University; deployed 80 Digital Capacity Training Centres nationwide; deployed 4 Special Purpose Community IT Training Centres and distributed over 2,000 laptops to various tertiary institutions. The Agency also recently constructed and launched a new Digital Centre for Digital Nigeria, remodeled the NITDA building to a SMART building and rebranded its corporate image and operations.

To boost its local content drive, the Agency has commenced the execution of Nigerian Software Strategy, in collaboration with the National Office for Technological Acquisition (NOTAP), while 64 software projects have been flagged by NITDA for patronage by Nigerian companies.

As a response to the novel COVID-19 outbreak, NITDA constituted a Tech4Covid Committee that will explore measures to be employed in cushioning the economic effect of the Pandemic on startups, ICT-enabled SMEs and the technology ecosystem in general. The Committee, among others, came up with a plan to ensure the retention of about 100,000 ICT jobs as well as the creation of additional 30,000 jobs in the post-COVID-19 era.

Who is Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi? Born on February 21, 1980, he is a graduate of Computer Science from the prestigious Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. A member of the Computer Society (NCS) and the British Computer Society (BCS), he is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-trained strategist with 15 years’ experience in IT operations, business transformation and solution architecture, across both private and public sectors. He attended Leadership and Management courses at Harvard University in the USA, University of Cambridge in the UK and IMD Business School in Switzerland.

As the 1st Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) in Nigeria’s Public Sector, he is also a Certified Project Manager and Solution Architect. He also has many professional certifications in Networking, Telecommunications, Service Management and Solution Design.

Before coming to NITDA, Mr Abdullahi worked for nine years (2004 – 2013) at Galaxy Backbone and held several positions such as Network Engineer, IP Network Field Engineer, Senior Network & Lead, IP Operations Team, and Senior Solution Architect & Lead, Technical Solution Design.

In 2014, Mr Abdullahi joined Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a Technology Architect, where he dedicated his time to developing Technology Architecture Repository that gives 360 view of the Bank’s IT Infrastructure and facilitated ease of decision making on new IT investment. He was part of the team that executed software license rationalization that has increased cost savings for the Bank in license annual subscriptions.

Mr Abdullahi was a key resource in the development of IT standards for the apex bank, which has reduced mean time to deploy/integrate new system by over 20%. One of his major achievements as a Technology architect was the production of 7 Solution Architectures for critical IT initiatives that helped in achieving cashless society in Nigeria.

“Hassan is the General Manager, Northern Operations for BusinessDay”