DG NITDA Kashifu Inuwa with Executive Secretary NELFUND Akintunde Sawyer at the Agency's Headquarters in Abuja.

Student Loan: Kashifu Advises NELFUND to Accommodate Short Courses on Digital Skills

As the world shift from certificate to skill acquisition, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE has advised the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) the administrator of the student loan initiative programme of the current administration to consider accommodating Nigerians who want to enroll in short courses that will equip them with digital skills.

Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, who made this known in Abuja while receiving a delegation from NELFUND led by the Executive Secretary Mr Akintunde Sawyer said this will empower citizens with high-in-demand global skills that will position Nigeria as a hotspot for brain export.

The purpose of the meeting was to learn, collaborate, and present a demo of the NELFUND Portal to NITDA for input.
He stated that because no one succeeds in isolation, it is important to take into cognisance., the role of the five critical stakeholders of the ecosystem and synergise with them.

He mentioned that these stakeholders include, higher institutions of learning, corporate organisations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the government.

He said, “Higher institutions of learning produce the human capital, so they need to be worked with closely because they need to understand the skills in demand; corporate organisations absorb the human capital by employing them or buying products from entrepreneurs, so if there is a gap between the institution and corporate organisation, it will be difficult to place graduates on jobs as most of our graduates cannot fit into the private sector unless undergoing these short courses.”

While acknowledging that NITDA is working with the Federal Ministry of Education to review the curriculum of tertiary institutions to meet, Inuwa said, “For Entrepreneurs, they could be students, dropouts, or anybody who has an idea that meets a need and that students should be trained with the mindset that they are acquiring certificates to create jobs and not just to seek white-collar jobs.”

He stated that venture capitalists should be encouraged to invest, as Nigeria’s technology ecosystem attracts more than 30 percent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

He said, “70 per cent of that investment comes from the United States while we have Nigerians who have money; that is why we are trying to set up the seed funding for startups that will encourage indigenous venture capitalists.”

The NITDA boss commended the work put into the development of the NELFUND portal as he said the portal should be made mobile friendly as there are many people that will access the portal through their mobile phones.

He further stated, “We can organise a user acceptance test to check vulnerability to ensure that it is okay. I also want to advise that you carryout the Data Protection Compliance Test to ensure you are complying with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR).”

Kashifu assured NELFUND of the Agency’s commitment to giving them all the necessary support as their interest aligns with NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0).

The Executive Secretary of NELFUND Mr Sawyer said, the initiative intends to connect as many Nigerians as possible to the fund in order to obtain tertiary education and pay back after their one year mandatory National Youth Service programme.

He said, “Our mission is to strive to revolutionise higher education accessibility in Nigeria by providing interest-free loans to eligible students. We want to help as many people as possible get to the next level as it will benefit the individual, institutions, and the nation at large.”

The ES said they have come to be challenged by NITDA in other to do better, collaborate, and learn from the Agency.

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