Google West Africa Committed to Deepen Existing Collaborations With NITDA.

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Google’s West Africa division has introduced Mr. Olumide Balogun as its new Director for the region to Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), affirming the commitment to strengthen the partnership between the two organizations.

During the visit to NITDA’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, Mr. Balogun, accompanied by fellow Google executives, emphasized the importance of the visit in reinforcing Google West Africa’s dedication to deepening the existing collaboration.

He stated, “Having been with Google for four years, I have recently taken on the role of West Africa Director. Our purpose in being here today is to identify key steps that will help us jointly realize the Nigerian President’s initiative to create 1 million digital jobs, as Google recognizes the need for interconnectedness.”

Mr. Balogun highlighted Google’s longstanding involvement in advancing internet access across Africa for more than eight years, mentioning, “Back in 2015, during our inaugural developer event, we announced Google’s transition from a mobile-first company to an AI-first company.

Our engagement with conversational AI, like the chat GPT conversations, has been particularly engaging.”

In addition to this, he shared that Google is currently working on a comprehensive document outlining the impact of Artificial Intelligence in Africa, which will be unveiled at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa in September. Mr. Balogun extended an invitation to NITDA’s Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, to deliver a keynote address at the event.

Responding to the presentation, Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of NITDA, expressed his belief that collaboration between the two entities could indeed lead to the creation of 1 million digital jobs through a well-crafted strategy. Inuwa emphasized NITDA’s efforts to position Nigeria for rapid job creation in the digital economy. He elaborated, “Our focus on the Nigeria Startup Act highlights initiatives such as talent development that can drive job creation. With our youthful population, Nigeria has the potential to bridge the digital divide.”

Inuwa noted that the government’s role in the ecosystem is to intervene in terms of policies, regulations, and infrastructure when necessary. He pointed out that regulations should facilitate market creation, provide access to services, safeguard consumers, enhance service delivery, and foster innovation. He emphasized the importance of allowing ecosystem players to self-regulate while ensuring adherence to established standards.

The Director General further elaborated on NITDA’s approach to regulation and policy, emphasizing the agency’s collaborative approach with the ecosystem. He highlighted the potential for Nigeria to make a significant impact in digital transformation due to its youthful population. “Digitally transformed enterprises contributed 18.5% of global GDP in 2018, projected to reach 53.3% this year. Generative AI is expected to contribute around 7 trillion US dollars,” he stated.

Inuwa acknowledged the successful partnership between NITDA and Google Developers Group, which has resulted in the training of 150,000 Nigerian youths. He revealed plans to expand similar initiatives, such as the ongoing program at the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) in Abuja, to other states in collaboration with GDG. In addition, he expressed interest in establishing technology development zones in partnership with universities to promote smart manufacturing.

Furthermore, Inuwa highlighted the need to establish a seed investment fund for startups to attract investment, as only a small percentage of the global investment in startups currently comes to Africa. He concluded by inviting stakeholders to collaborate with NITDA on these initiatives to drive technological and economic growth in Nigeria.