By Abbas Badmus
The World Public Relations Forum 2023 (WPRF), hosted by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, takes place in Chennai, India. Global Alliance is the confederation of the world’s major PR and communication management associations and institutions, representing practitioners and academics, with a mission is to unify the PR profession, raise standards, share knowledge with its members and be the global voice for public relations.
“World Public Relations Forum has been an open and diverse platform for public relations and communications practitioners from across the globe to meet, discuss, reflect and advance the profession,” said Justin Green, President & CEO of Global Alliance.
The theme for the WPRF, “Building Goodwill for Greater Good”, provides high-value learning and networking opportunities for delegates from around the world in inspiring sessions. The event also features the World Public Relations & Communication Awards, a competition meant to celebrate the most outstanding national and international public relations and communication management programmes and case studies.
Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is shortlisted as a finalist under the Ethics, Integrity & Compliance Category in recognition of its campaigns that demonstrate the highest levels of strategic planning, creativity and business results in the organisation’s relationship with its stakeholders.
NITDA won the African SABRE PR award for the same campaign in Zambia and was shortlisted as a Finalist of the Golden World Award by the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) in Barcelona, Spain. The tech agency executed the campaign in collaboration with the multi-award-winning Image Merchants Promotion Limited (IMPR), the publishers of PRNigeria, Economic Confidential, Spokesperson’s Digest and Tech Digest.
The regulator of information technology in Nigeria was recognised for using mainstream and social media platforms to counter criticisms and misconceptions after social critics and the public raised concerns that its “Draft Code Of Practice for Social Media and Online Platforms” was an attempt to gag the media and restrict freedom of press and expression.
During Twitter’s suspension in Nigeria, Inuwa led the technical team which had a robust engagement which spurred global digital diplomacy and set a new template for the operation of big tech companies within and outside the country. The era of Nigeria holding the short end of the stick came to an end as the country negotiated from a position of strength and made Twitter abide by certain rules that were meant to protect national interest.
Using effective PR tools in providing concrete facts highlighting the benefits of the code, the stakeholders and the public, who were adequately enlightened, eventually welcomed the guidelines. Some of the gains of the campaign include a shift in the perspective of critics, increased stakeholders’ engagement, dousing of tension, activation of a crisis team and endorsements by stakeholders and tech giants.
The campaign commenced in June 2022 after NITDA unveiled a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries (online platforms) it developed in collaboration with relevant regulatory agencies and stakeholders. The code was aimed at protecting the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, as well as defining guidelines for interacting in the digital ecosystem in line with international best practices.
The document was developed alongside the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), expert groups, with inputs from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and TikTok. The results were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.
The code sets out procedures to safeguard the security and welfare of Nigerians while interacting on these platforms. It aims to demand accountability from online platforms regarding unlawful and harmful content, and establish a robust framework for collaborative efforts to protect Nigerians against online harms such as hate speech, cyber-bullying, as well as disinformation and/or misinformation.
This week’s WPRF 2023 will be held days after the Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, met with M.M. Tripathi, the Director-General of India’s National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT). He also visited the headquarters of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nigeria.
Inuwa, who represented the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, underscored the importance of leveraging India’s vast expertise in digital technologies to bolster Nigeria’s digital economy. The meetings, aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of the Indian digital economy and exploring avenues for knowledge sharing and collaboration, covered topics ranging from digital skills development to cyber security and innovation.
Apart from the Social Media Code, the implementation of the 64 strategic initiatives of the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP), which Inuwa launched a few years ago, has significantly contributed to the impact of ICT on the economy, making Nigeria the leading destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa and attracting about US$3.8 billion which constitutes about 35% of all FDI into African startups from 2019.
NITDA’s TECH4COVID led to the retention of over 100,000 ICT jobs and 30,000 new jobs in the post-COVID-19 era, while the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) compliance drive created 7,680 jobs and a market valued at ₦1.2 billion. Also, the implementation of the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) has engaged 900 farmers and created over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs. NAVSA targets 10 million farmers across the agricultural value chain by 2030.
To promote emerging technologies in Nigeria, NITDA under Inuwa established the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) which has trained 1,250 youths on high-end cutting-edge technologies. The Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) was also created as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to incubate ideas and develop an enabling environment for startups to thrive. Through the ONDI, the agency supported over 200 startups with grants and seed funding.
More than 100 startups were sponsored to attend the GITEX global event, LEAP Tech Conference, Intra-African Trade Fair, and several local events. In addition, they benefited from the capacity-building programmes of Bridge to MassChallenge (B2MC), iHatch Incubation, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) and the North-East Start-up Training (NEST).
NITDA has committed to the conduct of an IT Talent Gap Assessment among Nigeria’s youth population for tech talent acceleration and to position Nigeria as a global IT Talent Factory. In line with the FG’s initiative on social investment, the Agency launched the one (1) million software developer initiative and various multi-sectorial capacity-building programmes to promote digital literacy, where over one million Nigerians have so far been trained.
Other NITDA achievements under Inuwa include the Design and implementation of IT Clearance for government MDAs which has cleared 866 projects from 336 Federal Public Institutions (FPIs), saving the government ₦305.96 billion from 2019 till date; the completion of ISO 27001:2013 Certification for NITDA (first government organisation to have attained such); the launch of the National Adopted School for Smart Education (NASSE) to promote digital literacy and skills.
NITDA has changed the information technology landscape, evident in the numerous awards and nominations the DG has attracted to the country. It is expected that the agency championing Nigeria’s digital economy drive will continue to record remarkable achievements. From all indications, President Bola Tinubu’s plan to create one million digital jobs in the first two years of his administration is attainable. Nigeria hopes that borrowing from India’s playbook will help achieve this goal.
Abbas Badmus, a Staff Writer with Tech Digest, writes from Abuja.