The Nigerian government on Thursday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tech giant, International Business Machines (IBM) West Africa, for collaboration in the area of digital skills development in Nigeria.
According to a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by his spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, signed on behalf of the federal government.
He reportedly expressed satisfaction at the organisation’s response to the ministry’s digital economy policy and “its willingness to bridge the divide between the academia and the industry, education and entrepreneurship.”
Merits of MoU
The minister said the partnership gives impetus to the digital, innovation and entreprenuership skills areas of the economic development plan of President Muhammadu Buhari and “is a quantum leap in the digital economy strategy of the ministry.”
“The MoU provides a platform to empower Nigerian youths with digital literacy skills, to enable innovation, design and development of indigenous solutions, self sufficiency and make Nigeria a hub for critical skills for Africa and the world at large,” the statement said.
Also, it said it will create awareness and support in the development and use of digital tools and applications to improve the delivery of government services.
“It will provide a pool of Nigerians with digital skills validated by globally recognised certifications and bridge the gap between the academia and the industry through sensitisation on digital tools and skills.”
It will also “lower the access barrier to digital tools for the citizens”.
“To achieve a digital economy, digital skills are central, and this has been adequately captured in the second pillar of the Digital Economy Strategy Policy Document as approved and launched by the President on the 28th of November 2019,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the minister disclosed the importance of broadband in the implementation of a digital economy.
He said this has been reflected in the seventh pillar of the ministry’s strategy document.
“The importance of broadband penetration in achieving a digital economy has given rise to the National Broadband Committee to ensure that we thoroughly address the impediments to broadband penetration and achieving a Digital Economy,” he said.
Mr Pantami advised institutions of learning to give priority to skills, “especially digital skills over paper qualifications.”
“Digital skills are more relevant in today’s world of emerging technologies, therefore we must encourage innovation and drive digital literacy and skills among the populace,” he said
Also, the Country General Manager of IBM, Dipo Faulkner, said the firm “works with governments and key ministries to address the societal impact of digital technology, leveraging our investment in education with platforms such as IBM Digital Nation Africa.”
“This new collaboration furthers our aims of scaling digital job skills across Africa.The programme is scheduled to take off in February 2020,” he said.