Pantami Harps on Innovative Skills, Says Degree No More Yardstick for Employability
TECHDIGEST – Nigeria joined the rest of the world this week to mark the United Nations (UN) World Creativity and Innovation Day (WCID) with commemorative activities by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
While keynoting the WCID activities by the NITDA, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said paper, degree qualifications are no longer the yardstick for skills or development but innovative ideas.
Education becomes more relevant if it offers critical skills to solve problems, said Pantami warning against over-valuing ‘paper qualifications.’
WCID is dedicated to raise awareness on the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development as well as highlight the importance of creativity and innovation for utmost efficiency with respect to advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“The approach today is that when a student gets admitted into a higher institution he would be directed to come up with his startup within a year, he will be working on this till he graduates with his own company and becomes a potential employer. That is the best way of managing the challenge of unemployment, particularly in Nigeria where we have the challenge of unemployment and un-employability”.
The minister who noted that no country can develop its digital economy without prioritizing digital innovation said, the increased attention turned to the sector by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is yielding the desired results as innovation and entrepreneurship remain the two prerequisites currently being explored by the country in developing its indigenous digital economy.
Pantami commended the Director General of the NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi and his team as well as the two subsidiaries, including the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) and the Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), for helping to advance Nigeria’s agenda for digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
Describing the theme: “Creativity and Innovation; Powering Collaboration for a Sustainable Digital Economy” as an integral part of more than five out of the seven pillars of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy which are directly associated with Creativity and innovation, the Minister urged everyone at the event not to make the commemoration just a one off thing. He encouraged them to identify the challenges Nigerians are being confronted with and collectively or individually proffer solutions that would address the myriads of issues in different sectors of the economy, including health, education, finance, security, agriculture, governance and many more.
“You cannot innovate without creativity and you cannot be creative without critical and analytical thinking. The wisdom behind this celebration is to create awareness where people globally will understand how important it is to be creative and innovative, particularly towards problems solving”.
According to Prof. Pantami, the Buhari administration has done a lot in supporting the Ministry and the sector in general, especially by coming up with several policies; some of which brought about the creation of subsidiaries (NCAIR and ONDI), and the startup bill seeking to address the setbacks being experienced by young Nigerian innovators.
Speaking earlier, the Director General of NITDA, Abdullahi, said the agency keyed into the transformative initiative to make strategic realignments to consolidate the gains and globally position Nigeria as a leading digital innovation and entrepreneurship hub.
While maintaining that the initiative aligns with the national policy and strategy for a Digital Nigeria, the NITDA boss added that this will help Nigeria to create value from innovation.
His words: “We are targeting security, agric, health, education, and fintech. Thankfully, we have many of them here showcasing what they have done in collaboration with the Centre; because innovation is the wealth of the 21st century economy and it’s only through innovation that we can solve problems, create wealth and prosperity for our country. Therefore, NITDA and the Centre are doing what is going to transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy.”
The stressed that NITDA has continuously supported young innovators and startups with not just grants, but also mentorships and promotion of their different innovative solutions at local and international fora, noting that since the NCAIR was inaugurated, it has organized multiple innovation competition, including two major ones; Bridge to Mass and iHatch Challenge.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, NCAIR, Y’au Garba expressed confidence that the centre will help to foster more indigenous innovations that would solve both local and global problems.
The event also featured a brief tour of exhibitors’ booth by the minister. Five startups winners of the Innovation Pitch Competition were rewarded with cash prizes.