Expert Advocates Ministry of Innovation, Digitalisation

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Emma Okonji
African leaders have been advised to further embrace disruptive technology that would transform the continent and help it survive in the fourtth industrial revolution that is currently sweeping across the globe.

Founder/CEO, Future Software Resources, Mrs. Nkemdilim Begho, gave the advice while delivering a paper in Belgium recently, centred around Africa and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

According to her, Nigeria and Africa need a future proof of national/continental strategy that is driven by innovation, technology and digitalisation that would form the cornerstone of all economic development plans and policies of the continent.

To achieve this quickly, Begho said African governments must create Ministry of Innovation and Digitalisation that would drive the fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa, which must be led by a young minister from the tech industry. She insisted that all technology acquisitions, deals and developments should be vetted by this ministry to ensure complete alignment with the national strategy.

She said local investors should be encouraged to invest in locally created technologies, tech and driven companies. They must also be educated on disruptive technologies and the potentials in order to ensure that local investors revise their investment strategy in line with the national strategy.

“Our educational systems need to be reformed – making technology and innovation the cornerstone of learning and not just another subject. Without a skilled digital workforce we will not only depend on the West, but also remain in poverty. We must use technology to create enabling environments and teach practical skills. Virtual reality offers a huge potential to teaching practical skills without heavy investment in infrastructure/labs or equipment.

“Online learning environments and content from both the educational sector and the private sector are key. Heavy investments in Research and Development facilities are key. We must also ensure that lecturers are fit for purpose. Any lecturer who cannot produce digital lecture notes should not be teaching or must be up skilled with a matter of urgency,” Begho said.

She further explained that policy makers in Africa must create policies that would accelerate the growth of the tech and tech driven economic ecosystem and spur digitalisation, not hamper it.

“Our aim should be to scale existing tech and tech driven businesses to create more jobs. Part of these policies should focus on tax breaks, elimination of additional charges/unnecessary license fees, establishment of minority bids for government procurement, provision of infrastructure through tech hubs/innovation centres, support of locally made technology solutions, grants, among others,” she said.

African governments, she said, must engage the local tech ecosystem and hand-in-hand, create a digitalisation plan that is sustainable and most importantly future proof. Intimate private-public partnerships will be required to leapfrog our nation into the future.

Addressing the role of women in nation building, Begho said African governments must ensure that women and youth inclusive policies were empowered to exploit and fully embrace technology and the opportunities it brings.