The Director General, National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa, A. Ibrahim Pantami has charged parents to support government ICT programmes saying this will reducing youths unemployment in the country
He disclosed this in a chat with journalists at a seminar- Digital Economy Development Conference 2018.held at parkiin hotel Abeokuta
Pantami dpmaintinedthat the awareness become necessary in view of the teeming young population in the Nigeria, adding that it is important to leverage on naturally digital literate youths to boost digital economy.
Illustrating the concepts, he said “if you have a driver who is about twenty years of age, you will find out that he is digital literate; very active on facebook, twitter, instagram. Whenever you send mail to him, he reads it and replies you within five minutes. Compare it with a sixty years old staff who have a PhD degree in computer science, hardly will he open his mail because naturally he or she is not digital literate. While a driver with ordinary school certificate will not waste time to read and reply mails”.
Speaking further, Pantami noted, “Digital inclination is a double edged sword. It could be positive or negative; for growth or cybercrime”.
He warned parents to encourage their children toward using of ICT positively; otherwise they may start using it to commit crime.
“You wonder at times how your children get your password. If you fail to influence your children to use their ICT nature positively, they are going to use it to commit cybercrime considering the rising number of cybercriminal across the world.
“For example, India has taken advantage of that and making $143bn annually through outsourcing only. Meanwhile, today, in Nigeria, we don’t have enough outsourcing centres.
“For us to leverage on this for our population growth, all hands must be on deck.
“For about five years now, unemployment in Nigeria has been fluctuating between 29.5 and 33.10%, particularly; youth unemployment is more worrisome which stands at 33.1%.
“In digital economy, we have uncountable job opportunities if are to leverage on digital nature of our young population.
“And there must be a role been played by parents. Let them not restrict taking care of their kids to feeding and paying of their school fees only, rather they must train them on handon particularly ICT.
“Unlike in the 80’s when we trained on handiworks after school hours, students of today only focus on reading and studying. They don’t even understand what they are doing. They dress and make up, graduating without having any skill. If you ask them to farm, they don’t know, they don’t have any vocational skill. This is something parents must revisit. We must take them to school but must provide alternative for them the same way we were trained by our parents. You return from school and resume apprentice either as mechanic or carpenter”.
Explaining on the efforts by the Federal Government, Pantami said his agency has been directed to promote indigenous technology and innovations, supporting and patronizing local technologies.
“Federal government has come up with deliberate effort in order to encourage indigenous technology and at the same time investing on indigenous technology.
“We are not only sponsoring and mentoring our startups, recently we sponsored some set of startups to get license for information exhibition. This is a deliberate effort by the government that whoever comes up with any innovative idea that are tested, we are ready to support him so that the country can support it which is the reason we have travelled round the country in search of young innovators such that every zone of Nigeria is well represented equally because you cannot develop IT sector by neglecting some people.
“We travel from one state to another to motivate our younger innovators including going to universities visiting ICT related departments that specializes on Software, hardware, networking or any aspect of ICT. We keep them in our data base, we monitor their progress, we support them in cash and kind as the case may be.
“Of recent, the office of the Vice President has launched another program called Student Challenge Initiative which started in the University of Lagos on April 23, 2018. He was at the Bayero University, Kano on September 22 this year to identify with our students with innovative ideas and see how they can be supported.
“Barely two weeks ago, November 6, the president of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, declared an ICT event open. He is the first president to declare open IT conferences; November 6, 2017 and November 6, 2018, while the Vice President declared open that of 2016.
“It is noteworthy that the President has never attended an event twice except ICT conferences. This is nothing but motivation. And he went round the exhibitions, discoursing with the innovators, and in the course of liaising with them, he was identifying their innovations, and directing the Ministers there with him to take care that that concerns their ministries. An innovator who produced Drone was handed over to the minister of defense. All innovators were handed over to the relevant Minister to support them and patronize their innovations.
“The fact is that with the population of our young innovators, we can leverage on digital economy and do well financially otherwise particularly in the private sector. You will remember a young Nigeria that innovated an app called Hotspot. The app was bought by Apple Company at the rate of one billion USD approximately N350bn.
Pantami furthered by detailing how far the agency has gone in sensitizing the general populace interms of ICT security. He said through a program initiated by the National Information and Technology Development Agency, they had been able to create awareness on how to play safe on internet in four geopolitical zones remaining two.
“Government will continue to clearing and creating enabling environment with all indices that will make the sector friendlier like providing Hotspot across the country where people will be trained on ICT related skills.
“Currently we have installed ICT hubs in Ibadan and Lagos. We are coming up with two IT hubs in collaboration with Nigeria Security Investment Program. There are going to be two hubs in Lagos and in this zone again.
“These are deliberate efforts to make sure we install a classic IT hub where people will be trained on hardware, software, and networking. We are also working on how to support private IT hubs. Government can pay IT hubs so that people can access to free internet to do their IT activities, and we also working on IT policies to make IT more objective and projective.
While driving his points home, Pantami encouraged private sector to also exercise their coperate responsibility when he said, “there must be effort from private sector by which they can give adequate training to innovators at least as their cooperate responsibility. There must be a kind of academia to conduct research and to make sure they promote entrepreneurship in ICT in Nigeria”.