That Jigawa Summit On Creating A Viable Innovative Ecosystem
By Inyene Ibanga

TECH DIGEST – Digital technology is the most powerful force driving change and efficiency across the global economy today. The transformative nature of digital innovations cuts across every facet of human activity and the environment we operate in. Its impact on lives and the way we do things are enormous and pervasive, because its power transcends physical borders and distance.

The disruptive impact of digital technologies is most evident in agriculture, health, education, transportation, trade and commerce, the banking and security sectors. These crucial areas encompass the art and science of humans living in harmony with the physical environment.

In fact, society remains in an unending race to catch up with the rapid evolution of digital technology. As society is learning to use the latest digital technology, newer and more innovative ones are being introduced.

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D Printing and Robotics are creating significant social and economic effects in most countries of the world.

These emerging technologies are facilitating rapid growth, efficiency, the effective exchange of knowledge, as well as easier communication among individuals, businesses and nations.

With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (also referred to as 4IR or 4.0), the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological spheres are fast disappearing and would become non-existent sooner than later.

While most advanced and developing countries have adopted the digital mode as the new and enduring enabler of their national economies, others are yet to transit from the conventional economy to the digital one.

Presently, Nigeria is developing a digital-led growth strategy to accelerate growth and upgrade the national economy through the “Smart Nigeria Digital Economy Project”, for the sustainable diversification of the economy.

This involves a gradual repositioning of the nation’s economy into one driven by technology and innovation to improve security, check corruption and harness the unlimited opportunities in both the continental and global markets.

With the ongoing implementation of the digital economy, more Nigerian youths are becoming actively engaged in technological and economic activities. Digital technology has opened up a new vista for them to explore and expand their imagination and creativity.

Digital technology offers a veritable platform for the youths to channel their restlessness into productive and problem-solving activities that foster efficiency, create opportunities, boost technology development and innovation.

States and local governments, tech companies, startups, investors, academia, NGOs, among others, have major roles to play towards creating the enabling environment to stimulate software development and innovations for solving our local socio-economic problems.

For Nigeria to produce competent manpower needed to develop the relevant technologies and innovations for solving our domestic problems, it behooves on states government to start replicating the ICT initiatives of the Federal Government within their domains.

Through strategic collaborations with a broad spectrum of stakeholders within and beyond the tech sector, state governments would be able to convince the youth to contribute the resources needed for expanding digital knowledge and expertise.

A case in point was the recent Jigawa Innovative Summit tagged “Creating Viable Innovative Ecosystem for National Development”, organised by the Jigawa state government in collaboration with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and an NGO, Youth Coalition for Development (YCD).

Speaking to the theme of the event, Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar challenged the youths to leverage digital technologies and build their capacity to serve as solution providers in order to overcome socio-economic challenges and move the country forward.

He advised the youths to focus on critical thinking in order to broaden their minds and transform the opportunities within their local environments into businesses, jobs, and improved economic wellbeing, adding that the more problems are being solved, the more income can be generated for the benefit of stakeholders.

The governor, therefore, urged the youths to take advantage of the vast arable land and irrigation schemes available in the State to develop the agricultural value chain, while also saying that the Informatics Institute in Kazaure has been repositioned to continue producing competent IT professionals for the country.

Also speaking at the event, the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Pantami commended Jigawa State for its drive in the Digital Economy, noting that the State government showed its willingness to support the effort of the Federal Government and collaboration in order to develop the digital economy of the country.

Pantami cited how Netherland used digital technology to boost its agricultural activities, despite having lesser landmass in comparison to some states in Nigeria, and added that if Jigawa State deployed digital innovation to agriculture, it would create many jobs and generate revenue for all the tiers of government.

Presenting his keynote address, the director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa recalled that the governor showed interest in Jigawa State’s readiness to embrace the initiative, hence the minister endorsed engagement of all the stakeholders to ensure Jigawa benefited from the digital economy.

Evidently, there is so much the state governments stand to gain when they effectively collaborate with private and public sector stakeholders in the technology and innovations. They need to create relevant agencies to drive the tech revolution in their respective states.

State governments should emulate their Jigawa counterpart by cultivating strategic collaborations with relevant NGOs, ministries and agencies such as ministries of Communication and Digital Economy; Science and Technology; NITDA and others to empower youths with the IT skills and expertise and also boost the economic fortunes of their states.

The regular engagement between state governments and the public and private sectors, IT experts, technopreneurs, academia, and other stakeholders would encourage the exchange of ideas on how to exploit the competitive advantage in their respective states and formulate strategies that can help unlock opportunities and create prosperity for their youths.

By the time more state governments undertake deliberate actions to foster accessible platforms for tech enthusiasts and innovators, Nigeria may truly be on course to increasing the number of young IT professionals with the requisite skills to drive sustainable growth in her digital economy.

Inyene Ibanga is Managing Editor TechDigest and writes from Wuye District, Abuja.