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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has commissioned an Information Technology Innovation and Incubation Park Building at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State as part of its ICT intervention projects.

The project, which was commissioned by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ibrahim (Pantami), is aimed at harnessing indigenous ICT innovation and technology for entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the commissioning, the minister said the ICT Innovation and Incubation Park Building will create more entrepreneurs in the sector and help create employment for Nigerian youth.

He said the objective is in line with the Nigerian government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and diversification to digital economy.

The minister recalled that the idea to establish ICT Skills Centres in six geopolitical zones was conceived during his time as the director-general of NITDA.

“We discovered there is no intervention by NITDA in University of Port Harcourt. Though there was no written application from the management of the University, but we considered building this Innovation and Incubation Centre because the institution is very strategic in the South-south,” he said.

Mr Pantami also noted that the centre would identify brilliant young Nigerians with innovative ideas from the South-south geo-political zone and make them productive in the field through practical innovation and solve challenges in the sector.

“We have the talents and pool of enthusiastic young and vibrant technology innovators in Nigeria. I am sure if this center performs very well, it will definitely have significant impact on the transformation of driving digital economy,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, the Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said the Innovation and Incubation Centre situated at the prestigious university, is meant for academia, industries, entrepreneurs, risk capitals and startups to meet in order to harvest and incubate ideas to drive innovation and boost the economy. This is in line with economic diversification.

He said the federal government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, implemented economic reforms with some radical changes to improve ease of doing business and accelerate economic growth.

“The government has identified ICT as a measure enabler. As a result of this, ICT sector has taken over oil and gas in terms of contribution to our GDP. In the second quarter of this year, ICT contributed 13.85% while oil and gas contributed only 8.08% to our GDP,” he said.

Mr Abdullahi said NITDA was working in line with the new strategy from the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy focusing on key strategic initiatives to create opportunities.

“Early this year, we issued Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, which is an instrument that unlocks data industry. The regulation de-risks personal information, while our desire is to create jobs.

“We have so far licensed 27 Data Protection Compliance Organisations and they have employed over 600 people. Our target is to create 300,000 jobs which is achievable if we look at our population, statistically, there are over five million data collectors and processors in this country who are to comply with this regulation.

“Furthermore, NITDA focuses on Digital Literacy and Capacity Building Initiatives, and that is why this Innovation and Incubation Centre has been built, so that we can get people from industries, universities corporate organisations that will come together to incubate ideas and create driving enterprise”.

The Vice-Chancellor also thanked the Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, for his utmost contributions towards completion of the project, which according to him, has already created a mark in the history of the university.

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