FG moves to empower innovators, entrepreneurs as it unveils digital Nigeria portal, mobile app 

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By Ibiyemi Mathew

The Federal Government of Nigeria has disclosed that the recently launched digital Nigeria portal will empower innovators and entrepreneurs.

Delivering a speech at the launch of the Digital Nigeria portal and Mobile app yesterday, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami said that the Digital Nigeria programme will provide a platform to empower Nigerians to develop relevant skills and build innovative solutions to address challenges within different communities.

The minister disclosed that the launch is in line with the implementation of the Digital Literacy and Skills Pillar #2 of the digital economy agenda.

Pantami said that this is a follow up to President Muhammadu Buhari’s flagging off of the Digital Nigeria Programme on the 19th of March 2020 to support Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training for Nigerians.

“The Digital Nigeria Programme will provide a National Platform for improving the digital literacy of Nigerians and it will enable Nigerians from all walks of life to acquire high level digital skills.

“It will have a strong emphasis on Skills for Jobs and will include Nigerians in all strata of society, such as youth, women, children, internally displaced persons, people living with disabilities, etc.

“We are championing a paradigm shift that lays emphasis on skills, in preference to merely having degrees without skills. Degrees are only meant to validate skills. This is a growing trend across the globe. For instance, China recently started the process of turning 600 of the country’s general universities into skill centres.

“Also, the President of the United States of America signed an Executive Order on the 26th of June 2020 directing the federal government lay emphasis on skills rather than degrees when hiring staff. The curriculum vitae of today should have 2 main parts- soft skills and hard skills.

“The digital literacy and skills pillar recognises the fact that citizens are the greatest assets in any economy, including the digital economy. It will support the development of a large pool of digitally literate and digitally skilled citizens. We recently provided a platform to support the Digital Nigeria program, enabling Nigerians to receive training in diverse digital skills. As part of these efforts, I earlier launched another online academy executed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). Over 40,000 Nigerians have enrolled across both platforms since the 2nd of April, 2020.

“Today, we are formally launching the www.digitalnigeria.gov.ng portal and the ‘Digital Nigeria’ Mobile App. We are committed to enabling Nigerians acquire high level digital skills from the comfort of their homes”, the Minister explained.

He listed some of objectives for launching these platforms as follows:

“To empower innovators and entrepreneurs with skills required to thrive in Nigeria’s emerging digital economy;

“To provide capacity building in a wide range of areas, including Digital Literacy, Productivity Tools, Web Development, Cloud Computing, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Database Administration, Networking, Programming, Internet of Things and Soft Skills;

“To create a platform to support a paradigm shift from degrees to skills and bridge the gap between the academia and industry.

“To promote the development and distribution of instructional materials in electronic format.

He said that it will also lead to create an enabling environment for building the capacity of Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through e-learning channels.

“The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy emphasizes the importance of partnerships as a key requirement for the successful development of our National Digital Economy.  As such, we are very delighted to partner with the African Development Bank and the Microsoft on this very important initiative”.

“There is also training on soft skills like entrepreneurship, research, marketing, business and how to create excellent resumes. As such, a wide spectrum of users, from beginners to advanced students, can find appropriate courses”.

“We will regularly update the platform to include more courses from time to time.  It will enable us identify skilled Nigerians for additional capacity building opportunities and allow us to easily conduct surveys to identify courses of interest.  Students will receive certificate of completion after completing the courses”, he added.

Pantami reassured stakeholders of the Ministry’s commitment to developing the capacity of Nigerians to use technology to solve problems.

“We will keep updating the course offerings to reflect global trends. The step by step procedure for using the platforms will be available on our website and social media pages,” he concluded.