NITDA, Blockchain & FutureTech, by Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi
It is an honour and privilege to give a keynote speech at the 16th edition of Nigeria’s Blockchain & FutureTech Conference of Value and Innovation. The event presents a platform to discover how Blockchain, VR, AR, DeFI, GameFI, and NFTs with associated IoT and AI technology, are altering and disrupting incumbents – creating new opportunities for forward-thinking individuals, organisations and great nations.
The success of cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, NFTs, Metaverse, and Web3 is beginning to take over the industrial and financial space. With Blockchain Technology supporting these new-age concepts, we can expect that the future will belong to decentralised resources. The industry is growing in heaps and bounds, and we will likely see more path-breaking innovations soon.
After cryptocurrencies gained much traction, blockchain technology emerged as one of the most promising technologies to transform businesses. Today, many large and medium-sized enterprises are exploring the Blockchain’s potential to make a place in the competitive market. The global market for blockchain technology is expected to grow over USD 39 billion by 2025.
The NFT market alone is expected to continue growing as more and more things go from physical to digital. Blockchain is now at a point where large corporations and governments, not just a tiny hyper-technical community of IT experts, are starting to comprehend its potential to improve people’s lives and build more resilient organisations.
For many years, we have only witnessed the possibilities associated with virtual worlds in science fiction novels. Today, the metaverse concept has become a real phenomenon, with many popular platforms enjoying massive user bases. One of the significant aspects of the metaverse design is decentralisation, which would enable transparency and seamless access to the metaverse. Aside from decentralisation, metaverse also relies on blockchain capabilities for ensuring user governance privileges alongside verifiable provenance.
Undoubtedly, Blockchain digital revolution has several possibilities with broad economic and social implications. It pushes for the emergence of digital transparency and integrity, leading to extensive changes in business models and governmental functions. Hence, it will facilitate the development of the Nigerian digital economy by supporting our digital transformation agenda in a way that promotes efficiency, transparency, and productivity.
Innovators in various fields are maximising the benefits of this incredible technology; from medicine to agriculture, finance to governance, education to transport and across the global supply chain. Innovators are exploring ways to use blockchain technologies to disrupt and transform traditional process models. With its decentralised and trustless nature, Blockchain technology can lead to new opportunities and benefits industries through greater transparency, enhanced security, and easier traceability.
Governments and businesses all over the world have begun to utilise the robust potential usability of Blockchain. NITDA is not left behind; we are inclined to employ our statutory responsibility towards innovative technologies to develop strategies for a healthy IT ecosystem that encapsulate emerging technology such as Blockchain. At NITDA, we developed a Blockchain Adoption Strategy to facilitate the effective utilisation of Blockchain technology towards creating a digital economy. The strategy outlines the roadmap and schemes for the adoption of Blockchain technology by the government in the digital transformation agenda; in a way that supports efficiency, transparency, and productivity.
As this technology drives new business and service models, NITDA realises the need to deepen the adoption of this strategy to protect citizens and ensure fair markets while letting innovation and business flourish. As such, we are interested in fostering the healthy growth and safety of the nation’s digital economy through the right implementation strategy that would drive the adoption of the technology by both the public and private sectors. We are currently piloting the implementation blueprint in two federal government sectors and building a proof of concept (POC) on the implementation of the National Blockchain strategies.
In this regard, the Agency is creating a national infrastructure for the deployment of blockchain solutions in a government institution that integrates identity and incentive platforms, promotes research and development, in addition, focus on the skilling of the workforce, and create a procurement process to enable government agencies adopt blockchain solutions.
In the same vein, the Agency is taking steps to replicate and implement regulatory soundboxes that have been adopted by countries like the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Canada, and Denmark. Regulatory sandboxes will enable participants to test products and services on a small scale in a controlled environment, reducing innovation costs and barriers to entry. It also allows regulators to collect important information about innovative products before deciding which regulatory action to take. With this, Nigeria’s regulatory sandbox will facilitate the necessary dialogue between market participants and regulators to develop regulatory actions that strike the right balance between fostering innovation and mitigating new risks.
Through sustained engagement with stakeholders like you and many others, implementation of these regulatory guidelines would be enhanced and, in turn, would engender a conducive regulatory environment for all players in the digital economy to thrive and fulfil their potential for prosperity and national development.
NITDA believes that our youth must be trained and given the prerequisite skills to participate in the knowledge economy and create wealth for themselves and our nation. We opened APP-LAB Young Innovators Fellowship Program, which seeks to identify, mentor and train young Nigerians for free in Emerging Technology skills and match them with industry practitioners. To produce a team of developers who will become Technology Entrepreneurs for themselves and other companies in the nearest future. Thus, creating futuristic businesses and jobs in the IT Sector.
We also initiated start-up voucher programme to support viable business ideas for incubation in any technology hubs of their choice across Nigeria. In 2022 the Agency also launched iHatch Programme, which was designed to refine Nigerian entrepreneurs’ business model through mentoring, lectures and boot camps, and enable the creation of viable and scalable business models, hence, the result of an innovation-driven enterprise (IDEs). The overall goal of iHatch is to establish companies which are legally Incorporated under (CAC) by young Nigerians, produce minimum viable product (MVP) of their innovative ideas, establish the connection between start-ups and investors, enable NITDA to analyse the start-up ecosystem and take necessary actions to improve the ecosystem through government actions and incentives.
We are also currently working on a “Talent Gap Assessment” project. We believe talent is the people side of technology. In Africa, we cannot compete with the rest of the world in terms of hardware and any technology infrastructure, but when it comes to talent, we have a competitive edge over the rest of the world. We are interested in building talents because it’s one of the significant global challenges. NITDA is already working on the National Talent Strategy; training of 1 million developers in the next 18 months. We are also set to train world-class Blockchain developers with global standards.
As Nigeria moves to harness the potential of its digital economy through co-created regulations and provide enabling environment for growth, attraction and protection of investment in the sector, the recently passed Nigeria Startup Bill by National Assembly will help institutionalise legal frameworks that will enhance the development of start-ups easily, quickly and conveniently in the country.
Collaboration catalyses economic growth, wealth creation, and sustainable digital development. That is why we host Blockchain Technology Summit as part of Digital Nigeria 2022, bringing together Blockchain Technology enthusiasts from across the world with key decision makers in governments and private sectors, all under one roof!
Digital transformation provides developing economies new opportunities to improve industrial age infrastructure, draw on the vast knowledge spill-overs from the internet, take advantage of new markets offered by digital platforms and exploit production possibilities enabled by digital technologies. We seek the support of all of you gathered here today and the entire blockchain community to reap the full benefits of this technology to promote innovations, grow businesses, create jobs, entrench security, reliability, and transparency in process models across all verticals of our nation.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi CCIE
Director General NITDA