In anticipation of Enugu State becoming a major investment hub in the country, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has added to the growing number of corporate and multilateral institutions that have established presence in state in the past few months, taking advantage of the investment friendly disposition of Governor Peter Mbah, and the overall improved security in the state.
Recall that shortly after the Enugu State Investment Roundtable which drew the attendance of international creditors, donor agencies, potential investors and foreign missions, the British High Commission in Nigeria, on Monday, September 11, announced the opening of its visa centre in Enugu on the request of the governor and other stakeholders interested in doing business in the state.
The Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, disclosed on Wednesday that approval has been given by the agency to set up a regional office in Enugu State, stressing that the decision was inspired by the investment potentials in the state.
The Director General, who was represented by the Director of Zonal Offices, Babajide Ajayi, said this during a courtesy visit to the governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, at the Enugu Government House on Wednesday, noted that the governor had repositioned the state as a destination for investment and business possibilities.
The NITDA DG further revealed that their visit was necessitated by their desire to collaborate with the state in achieving its strategic objectives and vision, noting that the partnership would elevate the state in line with the governor’s mission and vision of making the state attractive for investors from different sectors across the globe.
“We are here in Enugu State to look at how we can actually deepen our collaboration with the state government. We don’t want to just stay in abuja and do things in isolation. We want to work with the state government, we want to collaborate with you. We want to connect with the stakeholders in the state in the ecosystem, and we also want to share our strategic vision with the state and see how the state can also tap into our vision. In addition to this, we want to explain how we can further partner with the state and the ecosystem to drive digital economy.
“We want to actually hear from them and see how we can move the state forward with regards to ICT,” he added.
On his part, the Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy, Dr. Aristotle Onumo, commended Governor Mbah for the strategic steps his administration has been taking in the area of technology, maintaining that the decision to site the agency’s zonal office in the state was a milestone and result of the commitment the governor had shown in his effort to “engage and move Enugu State, especially young people to breathe and have something meaningful doing”.
According to him, the responsibility of government was beyond job creation to engaging the people, lifting them out of the pit of poverty and improving the human capital index, adding that these responsibilities could not be achieved without collaboration.
“It is on that note that we as an agency are keying in to that government programme of poverty alleviation, job creation, entrepreneurship and also supporting start-ups. And that is why we are here for this conversation with the Enugu State stakeholders and His Excellency the Governor particularly and also see how Enugu State Government will benefit from the agency’s programme. We have the focus and the goal to develop about 1 million talents to empower our youths. We want to engage the youths to leave criminality and crimes through digital economy,” he stressed.
Reacting to the visit, Governor Mbah said the state was ready to collaborate with the agency on the training of youths in the state on digital skills, information and communication technology (ICT) which would make them self-reliant, create wealth for themselves and get others engaged.
He said the state was already positioned to take advantage of the business-friendly environment which his administration had deliberately put in place such as derisking investment flow, harmonizing the land tenure system for investment, removing barriers and bottlenecks that could discourage investors and equip the youths as a viable workforce.
The governor informed the agency of his government’s efforts to expose the youths to the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, mechatronics, virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, fintech and others, which are presently driving the global economy, stressing that the state would be glad to partner with the agency to achieve its objectives.
“We recognise that a lot of the skill set that the youths have today may no longer be relevant to the emerging future. And this emerging future requires our young people to be upskilled digitally so that they can embrace the emerging possibilities it affords. So we know that the world is now moving into robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and agumented reality,” he added.
The governor, who appreciated the federal government for choosing Enugu for its regional headquarters, further said his administration would partner with NITDA to train and upskill a minimum of 40,000 youths in the state annually as a way of empowering them and ensuring they could become major players in the digital space.
Speaking on the role of technology in phasing out the brick-and-mortar method of trading which was becoming old-fashioned, Mbah said plans were already being perfected to equip young ones in the state with fintech and cyber security skills to enable them integrate into the digital market, saying “we are going to equip them with the skills that allow them to do e-commerce so that they will be able to have their market base in the entire globe”.
He stressed that the economy of the state would not only be driven by technology, it would help the administration achieve its strategic objectives of growing the economy seven-fold from $4.4 billion to $30 billion, and eradicate poverty from the nook and crannies of the state.
“We are going to drive that growth with technology and not magic. The exponential growth projection can only come through technology. We have already started doing it. If you look at our governance structure, we have migrated our services to digital platform. Currently, we are digitising and we started with the 11 ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), and we are looking at extending it to the 109 MDAs that we have in the state. We have already intervened in our land administration and management system. People are able to apply and obtain their certificate of occupancy within 72 hours. And when I say 72 hours, my team members will always interrupt and say ‘no, it’s 48 hours’. I don’t think there is any city in Africa where you can apply and get your certificate of occupancy in 72 hours,” the governor added.