Nigeria Inaugurates Smart Africa Alliance Working Group
Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the Smart Africa Alliance Working Group
The group consists of 12 members and is chaired by Dr Nasir Shinkafi, who is also the General Manager of Information Security & Business Continuity Services at Galaxy Back Bone.
The Smart Africa Alliance is an alliance of 30 African heads of state and Government that aims to take advantage of affordable access to broadband and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in Africa to establish a knowledge economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved Nigeria’s participation in Smart Africa in September 2022 and also approved Galaxy BackBone Limited as the coordinator for Nigeria.
Smart Africa is an innovative commitment from African Heads of State and Government to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development on the continent, ushering Africa into a knowledge economy through affordable access to Broadband and usage of ICT
Speaking in Abuja, the nation’s capital, the Minister who highlighted the achievement of the Digital Economy sector as unprecedented advised the committee to ensure that Nigeria attains the maximum benefit of joining the alliance and not just superficially.
“We have the largest digital economy in Africa. When it comes to performance, Nigeria is leading in Africa, and there is no doubt about this. Just two months ago we were in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with a Nigerian team to participate in the LEAP 2023. There were six global winners where well over 10,000 Young Innovators participated from over 80 countries. In the end, Nigeria won two global positions out of six, Nigeria is the only country globally with two winners,“ he stated.
Prof Pantami said most of the policies developed in Nigeria, are being adopted by other African countries, and expressed delight about blazing the trail.
He also urged the group to support the coordinating agency and focal point by harmonising and channelling their diverse expertise in the selection, development and implementation of an impactful flagship project that will accelerate the adoption of digital services and propel the digital economy in Nigeria and Africa in general.
In an interview with Voice of Nigeria, the Coordinator of the Nigeria Smart Africa Alliance Working Group, Dr. Nasir Shinkafi, said with Nigeria as a member of the Alliance, Africa stands to benefit greatly as a result of the successes recorded so far in the digital economy sector.
“The highly unprecedented successes and excellent performance recorded in the digital economy sector from August 2019 to date, under the supervision of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, are worthy of emulation by our sister African Countries.“
He noted that Nigeria is viewed as a role model that could facilitate the integration of all the flagship projects from other member states to form a unique digital market for Africa.
“This initiative will further confirm our position of leadership in the African digital economy ecosystem which will bring numerous digital transformation benefits into Nigeria. This is owing to so many factors, such as, appreciable number of uniquely identified citizens through the National Identity Number, young and skilled population, the market size, broadband and cloud infrastructure, fintech proliferation and startups, enabling environment provided by the Government, and so on,“ Shinkafi explained.
He revealed that some member states had indicated interest and also wrote seeking for collaboration in various areas such as developmental policy and regulation, infrastructure, digital literacy, skills, knowledge transfer and capacity building among others.
With the Nigeria Startup Act, Dr. Shinkafi said that there are ample opportunities that the Alliance will bring to the startup ecosystem.
“It serves as a single umbrella that brings the entire Africa in one place to discuss digital inclusion, digital adoption and digital acceleration within the African continent. Through the Alliance, we will support member countries to develop their own startup act and also promote our indigenous solutions to secure funding on their behalf.”
The Nigeria Smart African Alliance Working Group is expected to drive initiatives that will propel the country’s reputation through collaboration, capacity building, talent and knowledge transfer, job creation, wealth creation and sourcing for startups financing and investment opportunities through the continuous support of the coordinating agency and focal point under the supervision of the Minister.
The 12-member Nigeria Smart Africa Alliance Working Group has membership drawn from Nigerian Ministries Department and Agencies as follows: the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Central Bank of Nigeria, Galaxy backbone limited, Nigerian Communications Commission, National Information Technology Development Agency National Identity Management Commission, Nigerian Communication Satellite limited and Nigeria Data Protection Bureau.