The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), showcased Nigeria’s Innovative IT Policy Formulation Approach at the just concluded London Blockchain Conference. NITDA led the Nigerian delegation at the conference, held from 31st May to 2nd June, 2023 at the Queen Elizabeth II International Conference Centre, Westminster, London, United Kingdom.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, the Director General/CEO, represented by Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, participated in a panel discussion on “Blockchain Innovation Program: Changing Lives Through BSV Education”. He used the opportunity to inform the global Blockchain community of Nigeria’s innovative approaches towards ensuring nationwide adoption of the technology.
Mr Inuwa informed that the National Blockchain Policy for Nigeria, approved by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday 3rd May 2023 was unveiled by Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FCIIS, FBCS, FNCS, the former Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, on Tuesday 16th May 2023. He further indicated that the Policy was developed to help Nigeria’s transition into the digital economy by using Blockchain technology to boost innovation, improve public services, create job opportunities, reduce corruption, and drive economic growth.
It may be recalled that the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS) was launched and unveiled by Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the former President, in 2019. The Policy, anchored on 8 pillars, has Digital Society and Emerging Technologies as one of the pillars. NITDA, being the Policy’s key implementing Agency, crafted the Agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan, anchored on seven strategic pillars, namely Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy and Skills, Digital Entrepreneurship, Indigenous of Content Development and Promotion, Digital Transformation, Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. The implementation of the National Blockchain Policy for Nigeria, focused on three areas – talent development, innovation, and adoption – is aimed at helping Nigeria achieve, among others, improved transparency and accountability, increased efficiency, enhanced security, financial inclusion and job creation. It will also help in boosting innovation, improving government services, driving economic growth, enhancing public trust in governance and promoting citizen engagement.
Mr Inuwa highlighted the global high demand for employable skills. That with a population of over 200 Million, Nigeria accounts for about 50% of West Africa’s population. Furthermore, that Nigeria has a significant brain capital and a strong comparative advantage to leverage Blockchain technology to supply highly skilled labour to the global market. It is in this regard that the Agency commissioned the National Talent Gap Assessment that resulted in the development of the National Digital Skills Strategy. The NITDA Blockchain Scholarship Scheme with Domineum Blockchain Technology Solutions as the implementing partner and BSV Blockchain Association through BSV Blockchain Academy as the content provider, is part of the Agency’s grand plan of adding 500,000 Blockchain professionals to the talent pool, with the aim of making Nigeria a leading talent hub for Blockchain innovation and development. The first batch of the Scholarship programme recorded about 92,000 applications out of which 32,000 have successfully completed the programme and their certificates issued at the launching and unveiling of the Policy.
It is exciting to note that Nigeria secured the commitment of BSV Blockchain Association through Stefan Mathews, co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the nChain Group, a global Blockchain technology and Intellectual Property holding company as well as Executive Committee member of Bitcoin Association, for subsequent batches of the programme.
It may also be recalled that NITDA issued the National Blockchain Adoption Strategy in 2021, after a series of engagements with ecosystem stakeholders. The Strategy focused on six initiatives, namely the Establishment of the Nigeria Blockchain Consortium; the Strengthening of the Regulatory and legal framework; the Provision of National Digital Identity; the Promotion of Blockchain Digital Literacy and Awareness; the Creation of Blockchain Business Incentive Programmes; and the Establishment of a National Blockchain Sandbox for Proof of Concepts and Pilot Implementation. The National Blockchain Policy leverages the successes achieved as well as lessons learned from the implementation of the Strategy.
The Director General further reiterated NITDA’s commitment to sustaining the momentum, leveraging Blockchain technology in particular and emerging technologies in general, towards transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy, providing quality life and economic prosperity for all.