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Nigeria can leverage digital economy to boost innovation – NITDA

Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa has stated that Nigeria can leverage digital economy to boost innovation and drive development.

This was stated by Inuwa while speaking on the topic, “Building a New Africa with AI and Blockchain”, at the 2021 Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition, on Wednesday.

He said leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and other digital tools would lead to economic diversification in Nigeria.

Inuwa said considering Africa’s growing population and the dwindling oil revenue in a country like Nigeria, there is a need to harness other areas to diversify the economy.

“Digital technologies are changing the world at a faster pace than previously experienced waves of technological innovation,” he said.

“Nigeria needs to accelerate growth and modernise its economy through the development of a digital-led growth strategy for the Nigerian economy.

“It is pertinent to note that despite the economic shocks from COVID-19 pandemic, most of the growth observed in the economies were those from viable digital economies.

“Digital economy has been identified as an engine of growth, hence Nigeria can harness it as a driver of growth and innovation.”

Inuwa said the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative of the World Bank recognised that the digital economy could help accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievement.

“For Nigeria, a country in dire need to diversify its economy, digital economic activities are key for diversification because they transcend all aspect of human endeavours and the economic sector,” he added.

Inuwa said the conference was a meeting point for professionals, practitioners, and policymakers to brainstorm on the best ways to harness digital technology.

He said the agency collaborates with relevant stakeholders and researchers to ensure AI, blockchain, and other emerging technologies to support the country’s economic diversification and sustainability plan.

He urged stakeholders present at the event to make necessary partnerships and collaborations towards making Nigeria a leading knowledge and digital economy by 2030.

In his keynote address, Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said African countries, including Nigeria, must be positioned to take advantage of the huge revenue in AI technologies and blockchain.

“Adoption of AI solutions are expected to increase tremendously in the next few years, and competition among major AI companies is expected to be intense,” he said.

“In a recent report published by Markets and Markets (M&M), the global AI market size is projected to grow from 58.3 billion dollars in 2021 to 309.6 billion dollars by 2026.

“It is a compound of enormous growth rate of 39.7 per cent during the forecast period.”

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