Abuja, April 10, 2019 The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) says it is collaborating with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to deploy emerging technologies to address social challenges and boost innovation in the country.

The agency’s Representative in Nigeria, Mr Sakamoto Masanori, said this on Wednesday when he paid a courtesy visit to the Director General of NITDA, Dr Isa Pantami in Abuja.

He said that the collaboration was to enable the agency to promote the application of digital technology in the utility sector to facilitate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Masanori said the agency had engaged the private sector to open up business opportunities available in utility services.

He added that JICA was also conducting a survey called “Nigeria Open Innovation Challenge” to invite ICT startups that had capacity to change businesses and deploy more efficient solutions to social challenges present in the utility sector.

According to him, NITDA has the capacity to identify outstanding startups that can develop technology applications and business ideas for the sector.

He said “we are conducting a survey in some African countries like Rwanda,Kenya,Uganda and starting from Nigeria to develop utility service businesses because issues on water board is a huge challenge.

“We are looking at increasing private investors in this area to improve services.”

The NITDA boss, who recognised Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analysis, Internet of Things, Blockchain and 3D printing as part of emerging technologies that contribute to the development of any economy, said that the agency was ensuring that those technologies were deployed to develop different sectors of the country.

He said “AI, 3D printing, crypto-currency are all part of emerging, disruptive technologies and we are passionate about the concepts.

“We need to focus more on them to leverage on so many opportunities they have to offer and see how we can support our young innovators to attain higher level of development.”

The director general emphasised that the agency was open to developmental collaborations, adding that JICA should include other sectors in its interventions in the country.