Support for PLWD Top on NITDA’s Agenda, says Kashifu

By Sarauniya Usman,Abuja

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said that nurturing entrepreneurship skills and creating desired social and economic outcomes by facilitating innovative, technology-driven economic growth, through the use of ICT among people with special needs are top NITDA’s agenda.

The DG made this known today, at the opening ceremony of a 5-day training programme organised for People Living with Disabilities (PLWD’s) at the Enugu State Technology Hub and Youth Innovation Centre, Enugu.

The NITDA boss, who was represented by the Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy department of the Agency, Dr Collins Agu, claimed that the aim of empowering the special needs persons with ICT skills, digital literacy and its applications is to prop up their relationship with people and the world at large.

Abdullahi said that the 5-day training programme is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy which is being implemented by NITDA.

He added that the primary purpose of the training programme is geared towards empowering PLWD’s through investments in ICT infrastructure, policies and solutions with the aim of enabling them live productive lives, and to give them a sense of inclusion in the IT ecosystem, their immediate society and the country at large.

The Director General, while giving his keynote address stated that; “the objective of the training is to build capacities of people living with disabilities, make them employable and self-reliant in order to have effective economic independence in pursing their livelihoods.”

He said the training will boost all the participant’s digital literacy and proficiency so as to efficiently participate in the fast-growing digital economy and entrepreneur ecosystem.

He argued that the programme is in line with the vision of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, aimed at ensuring that the entire citizenry be empowered with Information Technologies through the development of a critical mass of IT proficient and globally competitive manpower.

He expressed delight at the theme of the programme, tagged: ‘Training in IT and Entrepreneurship’, which signifies the need to leverage on entrepreneurial technologies and job creation especially in this era of COVID-19 pandemic.

He reiterated that, with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy’s road map, which pledges, “leave no one behind”, it was critical to ensure the full and equitable participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of the society, particularly in the ICT ecosystem.

He stated categorically that NITDA, through this initiative, has trained over 175 persons throughout the country and has created over 1000 jobs because the programme which is a ‘train the trainer’ has an exponential ripple effect. This, he said, necessitated the need for the agency to bring the event to Enugu state with the purpose of using ICT to improve the entrepreneurship skills of persons living with disability in the region.

He assured that studies have shown that people with disabilities experience high level of discrimination in the society which consequently have effects on their social and economic dispositions, however, the training programme will potentially make significant improvements in their lives. It will, no doubt, give them opportunities to enhance their social, cultural, political and economic integration in the society while at the same time, expanding the scope of opportunities available to them.

He therefore urged participants to take the opportunity of the training seriously and make the best use of it to promote innovation and wealth for a sustainable National growth and development.

Earlier, the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who was represented by the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Hon Obi Kama, expressed his delight to be part of the laudable training initiated by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and thanked NITDA for implementing the training of Persons living with Disabilities in the State.

He said that massive unemployment, due to the post COVID-19 pandemic, has prompted the State Government in taking proactive steps in ensuring that youths of the state leverage on the new entrepreneurial and economic opportunities associated with digital economy which led to the establishment of the Enugu State Technology Hub and Youth Innovation Centre.

“It was therefore necessary to empower the PLWD’s in the ‘New Normal’ situation through capacity building programmes on ICT which will accelerate their opportunities in tapping into the endless possibilities unlocked by digitalisation,” he said.

“I appreciate the inclusive nature of this training organised by NITDA in bridging the digital divide among PLWD’S in the South-East, especially Enugu State. The State government is willing to partner with NITDA by making available an office space for the Agency to set up her south-east zonal office” the commissioner assured.

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