Nigeria has now become the technology investment destination in Sub-Saharan, according to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who also said that the present administration will continue to step up efforts in providing stable macroeconomic, conducive business environment, infrastructure and security nationwide.
Osinbajo noted that Nigeria can reap more rewards from maximizing its immense potential, especially that of its youths, in a sustainable way in a knowledge-based economy.
This, he said is especially so because there is indeed a shortage of tech talents in the world, and Nigerian youths can fill that global gap.
Osinbajo stated this on Thursday during a one-day working visit to Kaduna State, where he was the Special Guest of Honour at the Kaduna Economic & Investment Summit (KADINVEST 6.0).
The VP also commissioned the rebuilt and modernized Kasuwan Magani Market alongside a 100-Kilowatts Solar PV Mini-Grid in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the State.
“How do we create adequate resource capacity and capability? What will it take to train and equip enough Engineers, Technologists, Scientists, Doctors, and other products of STEM curricula to drive a knowledge-based economy?
“Thankfully, we are not alone in this, as there are global shortages everywhere of technological talent,” the VP reasoned.
“A recent analysis showed that the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning talent gap globally stands at 1.2 million resources, while there are only 650 thousand professionals employable in these roles.
“The best OECD countries have 16 scientists/researchers per 1000 employees and spend 1 to 3 percent of GDP on Research and Development, where do we stand on that scale? How do we accelerate our progress?
“With global gaps in talent, well-planned training programmes could even see Nigeria become a hub for critical technical talent.
“This was proven with the success of Andela in developing and placing Software Engineering talent and can be replicated across a broader range of STEM disciplines,” Osinbajo stated.
Highlighting the great strides being made by Nigerian youth in reaping the rewards of a knowledge economy through digital technology, the VP noted that “Nigeria is now the technology investment destination in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
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“Here in Nigeria, youth-run digital businesses are also making great strides. FinTech companies and other technology-enabled solutions are expanding so rapidly that the future of banking and financial services may not belong to banks or bankers as we know them today.
“Companies like Paystack which was recently acquired for $200 million, Kuda Bank without a single physical branch, Prospa that is revolutionizing banking for small businesses by tailoring banking and digital solutions, and Eyowo that built the platform for TraderMoni and MarketMoni, are creating jobs and crowding in investment.
“We are also seeing the impact of disruptive technology in our critical agricultural sector. Tomato Jos’ processing facility will be commissioned tomorrow here in Kaduna with a capacity to produce tomato paste of 85 tonnes per day (another product of KADINVEST).
“Tomato Jos is helping build a model for integration of processing and subsistence farming that can be scaled across the country to solve our perennial issue of producing raw materials without knowledge-based value addition.
“Aside from Tomato Jos, there are many other innovative companies doing well in this space such as BabbanGona that provides training, financial credit, agricultural inputs, harvesting, and marketing support to smallholder farmers.”
In the same vein, Osinbajo added that a “sound, relevant, practical, problem-solving, education” system will further boost national development because a knowledge-based economy “is entirely dependent on intellectual capital, a workforce, and talent pool that is educated, adaptable and dynamic.”
He said the STEAM curriculum being developed by the Federal Ministry of Education, which has added ‘Arts” to “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math or STEM education is crucial towards “developing an education system that would resource and support the knowledge economy: from teacher training to acquiring technology and other equipment.”
The VP also highlighted the importance of effective coordination and collaboration between the Federal and State governments in achieving mutual goals of infrastructure and socio-economic development.
He noted that the efforts of the Kaduna State government in this regard “are clearly positioned to benefit maximally from the critical infrastructure development that the President has committed so single-mindedly to, since the inception of our administration.
“Federal Government investments in this axis, complemented by the policies and investments of the Kaduna State Government will catalyze an economic hub that will create millions of jobs and opportunities.”
According to the VP, in addition to kinetic interventions, jobs and social protection are vital for security and sustainable development.
“We are making accelerated efforts to enhance security across the country, and in this region particularly,” he said.