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Nigeria set to produce ‘Mark Zuckerberg’—NITDA boss, Pantami reveals

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The Director General and chief executive officer of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Pantami has hinted that all things being equal, Nigerian startup ecosystem, with proper regulations and support, has what it takes to produce capacity to the like of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

This is based on the observed tact and burning zeal of several Nigerian upcoming software wizkids coming on the platforms of NITDA assisted schemes across the country.

In his remarks at the recent seventh StartUP Nigeria, the brainchild of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), Pantami averred that OIIE’s position in ICT “is not only indispensable for developing new products and services but also for ensuring the survival of any business in the competitive world by providing ample opportunities for growth and profitability”.

According to him, the federal agency has geared up its processes for proper regulation and development, crucial for supporting the startup and entrepreneurs ecosystem in the Country.

He stressed that NITDA’s interwoven roles are relevant for the country to achieve its purpose of “creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into new products, processes, or services meeting market needs, which culminates in successful enterprises”.

While believing that the competitiveness of any economy in the long term depends on innovation potential of the economy gained through entrepreneurship and effective technology transfer, he cautioned however, that Nigeria cannot remain an ‘ oil and gas resource’ based economy, as every projections show other countries are making a turn away from oil.

In his further submission at the event, Pantami made it clear that “StartUPNigeria held in Lagos today (Saturday) is a prelude to GITEX 2017, as NITDA tends to select the best startups to represent the country. This is critical in helping even the regulatory aspects of the IT sector. We identify with startups that need our technical, financial supports to push their solutions forward”.

“We believe Lagos is home to innovative startups; thus, we intend to assist them improve on their works. The truth is this: our country relies solely on oil and gas sector; in UK for instance by 2040 they intend to ban diesel or petrol cars, so our reliance on oil is disturbing.

“We have to move from oil resource to knowledge-based economy. ICT has the answer to this. The contribution of 12.6% of ICT to GDP is second to oil at the moment, but will soon takeover. India depends on ICT as $143billion annual comes from ICT; Nigeria accounts for 180million with 60% young people who are addicted to ICT.

“Today, you can’t do without smart devices or not connected; it’s not worth trying. We as ICT natives are addicted to it. The best way is not importation, but using our intellects to develop. No country will survive depending on ICT importation. We have met with OEMs to see how to reduce the level of importation. We want to have a ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ in Nigeria. Nigeria is closer to having own Zuckerberg and we shall surely support the process that will produce that platform,” NITDA boss added.