Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the offer by Microsoft Corporation and other tech firms to support Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) and youth development is a welcome development.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said that the vice president held a virtual meeting with Microsoft Corporation team led by its President, Mr Brad Smith.
The vice president said that Microsoft’s interest in supporting the efforts of the Federal Government could be leveraged to address issues affecting the youths especially in engaging them productively.
Microsoft is offering support for the digital transformation pillar of the Federal Government’s ESP.
This will be a continuation of the technology company’s investment in Nigeria after the establishment of an African Technology Development Centre in 2020.
Osinbajo said that Nigeria’s case was peculiar given that the youths constituted a larger percentage of the country’s population; hence the need for all stakeholders to pay more attention to that demography.
“It seems to me that there is just a wave of general anger around the world and people are generally impatient; impatient with government; impatient with practically all of the formal structures there are.
“But I am open and happy to hear what views there might be on trying to engage and engage even more with young people–and in our case, that is 70 per cent of our population, if not more.
“So, we are really talking not just about the youth population but the Nigerian populace because that is the majority.
“So, whatever it is that we are able to deploy to be more inclusive, to engage, even more, is really a solution for the entire populace as opposed to a solution for just a segment of our population especially given the fact that young people constitute 70 per cent or even more.”
According to him, Nigeria has a digital innovation initiative which hopefully will be the foundation for doing far more in the digital space than what is being done at the moment.
Osinbajo said that agriculture was an area the Federal Government had spent quite a bit of time and resources on especially in the past few years.
“We have also seen the development of a good number of agric-tech type companies and fin-techs that are also working in the agric sector.
“So, it is a whole load of innovation around the agric tech space, especially in the past few years.
“So, I think we really are up for programmes that will support these sorts of agric-tech initiatives,” he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, said the Federal Government had already put in place the necessary structures to partner with Microsoft and other tech companies in developing Nigeria’s technology ecosystem.
He said the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy, the National Policy on E-governance, among others, had been adopted by the Federal Government to support the growth of technology and innovation in the country.
Earlier in his remarks, Smith said that his company’s vision for investment in Nigeria was one that would lead to the creation of Africa’s most viable technology ecosystem.
He said the company’s investment in Nigeria was a demonstration of its enthusiasm about the digital transformation ongoing in Nigeria.
Smith proposed a 90-day timeline for stakeholders on the government side and from Microsoft, to iron out details of the various areas of collaboration.
Google Inc., in July 2020, announced plans to establish its first Google Launchpad Space outside the United States in Lagos.
Facebook, in Sept. 2020, announced its decision to open an office in Lagos as part of its planned expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Also, HUAWEI, in Nov. 2020, promised the vice president that the company would position Nigeria as a technology center for the African continent.