NITDA, Cisco Forge Partnership to Propel Nigeria’s Digital Transformation

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cisco System Incorporation to advance Nigeria’s digital transformation. Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Programme is a global initiative partnering with government and private sector leaders to develop sustainable, secure, and inclusive communities powered by ethical and innovative technology solutions.

The partnership aims to unlock the value of digitalisation in Nigeria and drive an inclusive future. The Federal Government will collaborate with Cisco, industry, and academia to accelerate the national digitisation agenda by implementing pilot projects in five key areas:

1. Repurposing NCAIR to create an AI and Cybersecurity Experience and Incubation Center
2. Establishing a Broadband Innovation Centre
3. Setting up a Smart Agriculture Demo Farm
4. Designing and deploying Technology Learning Hubs
5. Incubating Defense Technology Solutions

This partnership aligns with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s priorities of accelerating diversification through digitisation and innovation, strengthening national security for peace and prosperity, and boosting agriculture to achieve food security.

Speaking during the MoU signing at the NITDA Headquarters, Abuja, the Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, emphasized the importance of integrating security into AI development. “As we develop AI, we also need to design it with security in mind.”

Inuwa highlighted that broadband is crucial for digitisation and digital transformation, providing the connectivity needed for these advancements. He added that the innovation hub would encourage local startups and companies to create affordable broadband solutions using cutting-edge technology.

“We have a National Broadband Plan aiming for 95 percent broadband coverage in Nigeria. We need to be smart in our approach to achieve this target,” Inuwa said.

The initiative on smart agriculture aims to improve food production using Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and other technologies. “To achieve the Presidential goal of cultivating 500,000 acres of land efficiently, we need technology,” Inuwa noted.

The Director General expressed NITDA’s willingness to work with Cisco to establish a pilot Learning Centre, stating it is part of the Agency’s mandate to deploy technology to underserved areas. “Cisco is already working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on a pilot project in Maiduguri to deploy three Learning Centers using Cisco technology. We aim to scale this initiative.”

Cisco’s Country Director, Clayton Naidoo, emphasized the benefits of the MoU for Nigeria, including improved agricultural production, job creation, and economic growth. “We want to leverage technology to bring economic opportunities to Nigeria that contribute to growth and job creation.”

Naidoo highlighted Cisco’s alignment with Nigeria’s National Digital Agenda and NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan. “We aim to implement pilot projects to accelerate the digital plan,” he said.

He also disclosed that Cisco, a leader in Cybersecurity and AI, will partner with NCAIR to build an experience center in Nigeria. “The center will support organizations across Nigeria by building robust Cybersecurity and AI architectures through labs, design thinking rooms, and testing equipment.”

Naidoo added that Cisco will build a broadband innovation hub with Galaxy Backbone in partnership with NITDA. “This initiative aligns with the National Broadband Policy outlined by the Minister. We aim to build networks serving marginalized communities.”

Cisco also plans to develop smart agriculture using IoT and drone technology. “We will build a use case around smart agriculture with agricultural bots and drone technology.”

Naidoo commended NITDA for the partnership and assured that work would start immediately. “We believe in creating inclusive models that empower local communities and all citizens of Nigeria.”

The event concluded with a visit to a demo smart farm at the Abuja Technology Village.

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