The Aid for Rural Education and Access Initiative (AREAI), a non-governmental organization, has been highlighted as a potential collaborating partner to work and support the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in achieving its organizational mandate as summarized in the Agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021-2024). Speaking at the courtesy engagement and meeting between the 2 entities at the NITDA headquarters in Abuja, on Thursday 29th July, 2021, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General of NITDA, noted that “SRAP is anchored on 7 strategic pillars, namely, Developmental Regulations, Digital Literacy and Skills, Digital Transformation, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cyber Security, Emerging Technologies, and the seventh pillar is the Promotion of Indigenous Content.” He further explained that; “with the expertise Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative has demonstrated in driving its programmatic interventions on digital equity, we are pleased to explore partnership opportunities that would enable youth-led organizations like AREAi position itself as a leader in terms of ICT innovation and digital transformation efforts, particularly at the grassroots.”
The AREAi team which was led by the Chief Executive Director, Prince Gideon Olanrewaju, also included the Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning Officer, Abiodun Omotosho and Community Engagement Officer, Olajide Charles Falajiki. While acknowledging the commendable efforts of NITDA with its virtual academy that reached over sixty thousand online students and beneficiaries during the COVID19 pandemic, Chief Executive Director of AREAi, Prince Gideon Olanrewaju said
“Our desire to work with NITDA is hinged on keen interest to advance our collective objective of providing sustainable solutions that promotes digital inclusion for marginalized, rural and nomadic communities and enabling them to embrace new digital realities and benefiting from the many advancements in digital technologies”. In his words, “our efforts are geared at building up on our recently concluded Education Digital Equity Initiative, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) that supported 9047 beneficiaries from 24 schools and 20 communities across 6 Nigerian states with series of evidence-based comprehensive output materials that lays out simple steps and ideas to adopt in accessing remote learning materials, online education resources options and digital learning opportunities.”
In his concluding remarks, the DG NITDA, Mallam Abdullah stated, “I am optimistic that the two organisation’s partnership will uplift the actualization of their similar mandates such as indigenous investors and innovation programs among others,” he added. He also advised on the constitution of forum for discussions between NITDA and AREAI to come up with working tools to develop the idea into practicable reality. In the same vein, the Chief Executive Director of Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative, Prince Gideon expressed his delight in the potential of the collaboration with NITDA, emphasizing on how it will be a huge advantage to AREAi in harnessing expertise in bringing more innovation to the Rural communities in digital ways. It is expected that this partnership will dwell on both institutions’ interest in Digital Equity for equitable educational provision as well as inclusive, affordable, safe and secure digital access for unconnected Nigerians.