That African PR Award to NITDA on Digital Innovation, by Zeenat O. Sambo
It is not surprising to many, that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), won the “2022 African Public Relations Awards Certificate of Excellence” in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on the 25th of May, 2022. This is in recognition of the Agency’s contribution to successful implementation of Nigeria’s digital economy.
The African PR award recognizes excellence in branding, reputation, and engagement (SABRE), with a focus on engagement, credibility, and relationship building, and is organized by Provoke Media in collaboration with the African Public Relations Association (APRA).
The agency landed this APRA Certificate of Excellence in the Public Affairs/Government Relations category with a book by Inyene Ibanga with the same title, as part of its campaign on Digital Innovation for Economic Prosperity in Nigeria.
These soaring achievements of NITDA, which have been recognized both at national and international level followed the renaming of Nigeria’s communication ministry under the leadership of Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in October 2019.
Primarily, the new designation of the ministry was to revive the technological drive and further expand its mandate to effectively capture the goals of digitization of Nigeria’s economy.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat), Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) are the seven parastatals/agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
Despite renaming of the Ministry to encompass Digital Economy, much was not known about the impact that the new name could have on Nigeria’s economy through the adoption of digital innovations and Information Technology (IT) tools.
Therefore, in an exclusive interview with PRNigeria in 2019, Pantami harped on the need to provide the opportunity and strategies of creating awareness on this sector through public relations tools and advocacy.
This then birthed a clamour for a more productive and profitable IT sector which was chaired by NITDA to educate and inform the public regularly on the development in the ICT sector. Alhough NITDA was established in 2001, its drive for a unified performance has given a whole new dimension in how to design a campaign that will achieve its goals.
The campaign themed; Digital Innovation for Economic Prosperity in Nigeria was undertaken by NITDA in partnership with Abuja-based multi-global-award-winning PR agency, Image Merchants Promotion Limited (IMPR).
In order to sustain robust public relations coverage, the campaign was strategized to include the creation of online portal media coverage, weekly-researched articles which were later compiled into a book and equally presented in August 2021.
In ensuring full coverage of the sector, IMPR with support of NITDA began the campaign with the establishment of web portal TechDigest.ng for media coverage to showcase digital innovations in Nigeria with other activities. Within a year, NITDA and affiliates released a brochure on its website containing numerous digital skills which provides policy backing for massive training of Nigerians to enable them obtain digital literacy skills.
The awareness of this digital acquisition became a phenomenon participation across Nigeria both visual and at physical outlets across the nation.
Through the support of the Minister, the campaign enhanced positive perspectives on Digital Innovation and Digital Economy and also encouraged participation of critical stakeholders, investors, and startups to key into the sector which later recorded unprecedented contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He noted that “ICT contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which stood at 13.8 percent in the second quarter of 2020, recorded an unprecedented 17.98 percent in September 2021. Its highest contribution to Nigeria’s GDP.”
Towards ensuring its mandate of digital literacy, NITDA has sponsored series of capacity building programmes for staff in different Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as people in the informal sector towards deepening productivity.
Other digital literacy programmes include digital journalism training for media personnel in Abuja, Kwara and Kano which was conducted in late 2021 in collaboration with PRNigeria. In addition, over 100 journalists in Jigawa were exposed to appropriate skills for enhancing objective reportage of the digital economy. Furthermore, NITDA organized training programmes for Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) to equip them with relevant digital skills and ensure digital inclusiveness.
Recently, the agency was conferred the prestigious “National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Award” of recognition in May 2022, by President Buhari for its high productivity, hard work and excellence in service delivery by the federal government.
In recognition of unprecedented performance in ICT and Digital Innovation in Africa, both the minister and NITDA DG had been accorded recognition for excellent impact in different sections of Nigeria’s tech innovation ecosystem. Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) clinched the Most Outstanding Digital Minister of the Year in West Africa in 2021. And presently, he is the Chairman, World Summit on Information Societies Forum (WSIS).
Similarly, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi was honoured with the “ICT Personality of the Year Award 2021”, among many other accolades for sterling contribution to the implementation of the digital economy.
From the foregoing, therefore, NITDA must not relent in its march to achieving more successes. This the Agency would accomplish by channeling and redoubling its efforts towards sustaining the tremendous contributions of Information Technology and Communication (ICT) to the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.
Zeenat O. Sambo writes from Wuye District, Abuja