COVID-19: FG to cushion lockdown impact on IT firms

The Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said the Federal Government will cushion the impact of coronavirus induced lockdown on Information Technology (IT) firms and startups across the country.

IT firms in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and other cities have all been shut down due to lockdown directives in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the world.

But NITDA’s Director General, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Wednesday inaugurated a committee to advise the Federal Government on how best to compensate the startups, a statement Thursday by the agency’s spokesperson Hadiza Umar disclosed.

This is in line with the agency’s mandate of developing and regulating IT for sustainable national development, Abdullahi said.

The 10-member advisory committee to advise government on measures to be taken to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on start-ups, small and medium businesses as well as the technology ecosystem in general will draw up modalities to help mitigate the effects of lockdown on IT businesses.

“Concerned with the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ICT sector, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, directed NITDA to urgently look into how the Federal Government can effectively provide the enabling environment for Technology Start-ups and ICT businesses to help in mitigating the potential impact of the pandemic on their businesses”, the DG said.

The Committee has the Chairman, Innovation Support Network (ISN) and President, African Business Angels Network (ABAN), Mr Tomi Davies, as its Chairperson.

Other members of the committee are; Amal Hassan, MD/CEO, Outsource Global; Bosun Tijani, MD/CEO Co-Creation Hub (CCHub); Juliet Anammah, Chairperson Jumia Nigeria and Head, International Affairs, Jumia Group; Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform; Musa Ali Baba, MD/CEO Teasy Pay; Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Co-Founder, Andela; Collins Onuegbu, MD/CEO Signal Alliance and Dr. Kalli Zannah, Special Assistant to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

Dr Amina Sambo-Magaji, the National Coordinator, Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), is to serve as Member/Secretary.

While inaugurating the Committee, the DG NITDA indicated that the constitution of the committee is at the instance of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

He also said that members were carefully selected for their significant contributions to the ICT sector in general and the Technology and Innovation ecosystem in particular.

The terms of reference of the advisory committee, as listed by the DG, include: devise suitable strategies for the provision of affordable Internet access to individuals and businesses; develop a framework to facilitate access to financing for tech and tech-enabled ventures; devise modalities for encouraging the development and adoption of digital technology use support policies in line with the ‘Work From Home’ directives of the Federal Government; and develop a support program for Innovation Hubs to facilitate access to remote resources by startups during the work from home as well as other forms of support the hubs may require to be sustainable.

In line with the social distancing measures aimed at minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies were used for the inauguration.

It is also expected that the committee will make effective use of digital technologies in carrying out this assignment.

The committee has been assigned 48 hours to submit its preliminary report.

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