FG neglects plan to create thousands of ICT jobs

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The Federal Government appears to have discarded its plan to create thousands of jobs through the establishment of technology hubs.

While representing President Muhammadu Buhari at an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) forum in Abuja 2016, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo unveiled the plan for two ‘super hubs’ in Lagos and Abuja, and six others across the country by the end of 2017.

Regrettably, the initiative, 19 months after it was announced, exists only on paper.

According to Osinbajo “Each hub will be designed to produce relevant innovative technology solutions to a wide range of business, commercial and government problems. For example, alternative energy solutions, creative technology, public services delivery in health, education and government processes, import substitution, among others,”

The vice president also disclosed that major technology companies were partnering with the Federal Government for the provision of infrastructure and opportunities at the hubs.

He said “We intend to create a reservoir of human capacity in technology that can be exported internationally. Nigeria could lead India as a market for technology and innovation talent,”.

An ICT or technology hub is a space where technologists gather to bounce ideas, network, programme, and design, and bring their ideas to fruition for economic benefits.

A hub can establish a minimum of 10 startups and a maximum of 20 in about five teams each. This means that 20 startups multiplied by five teams each would create about 100 jobs. Multiplying 100 by the eight hubs planned by the Federal Government would yield 800 jobs.

Checking on the Nigeria ICT Roadmap showed that the Ministry of Communications targeted the creation of over two million jobs by 2020 through the establishment of the hubs.

The Federal Government, however, seems unwilling to pay adequate attention to the potential of technology for the economy, triggering concern among industry watchers.

Industry watchers expressed dismay that the nonchalant posture is coming at a time the country’s ICT sector is attracting the attention of the world’s biggest technology giants like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook.

They bewailed the failure of the president to see opportunities for productivity gains, cost saving and reduction of inefficiencies. They also decried the absence of pointers in his 2018 speech suggesting his readiness to leverage technology in addressing healthcare delivery, citizenship engagement or the revamp of education.

Chris Uwaje, Director-General of the Delta State Innovation Hub (DSHUB) said “The establishment of innovation hubs is a prerequisite for current and future competitiveness and survivability. he noted the Federal Government decided to establish eight hubs across the nation in 2017. Regrettably, the mission was never actualized,”.

The onus, therefore, lay with the federal government to redeemed its image and fulfill the promises it made to the ICT sector in the country.

 

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