The federal government has said that no less than five million Nigerians will benefit from a digital development program made possible by a partnership agreement with Microsoft Corporation.
Additionally, locations in each of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones would enjoy an active internet connection and cloud services, courtesy of this digital transformation plan.
The partnership with Microsoft Corporation based on connectivity, skills and digital transformation followed discussions between the two parties, led by Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and Microsoft President Brad Smith earlier in the year. .
This was contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President for Media and Advertising, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, on Monday in Abuja.
The statement said that the Buhari administration was partnering with the tech giant to accelerate Nigeria’s confident advance towards a more digital economy in line with the Economic Sustainability Plan.
For example, in January this year, the vice president had a virtual meeting with Microsoft Corporation president Brad Smith, where discussions covered areas of intersection between technology and governance to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation.
Speaking in a formal video announcement of the partnership with the tech giant, Prof. Osinbajo said that “our government is committed to harnessing innovation and technology to deliver better results in a broad area of governance concerns. In fact, it is with this in mind that we have sought constructive alliances that reduce the knowledge, skills and technology gap that exists in most of our communities ”.
According to him, “this launch is indicative of our commitment to this and will involve collaboration with various government agencies as implementing partners, including the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian Institute for Cultural Orientation and various other local partners.
“We intend for these initiatives to become institutions in their own rights and have a real impact on the lives of our citizens in the future.”
Regarding the core areas of the association, Professor Osinbajo said that “this association will focus on two pillars: connectivity and skills, and digital transformation.”
He said that “we plan to connect underserved communities in each of the six geopolitical zones with internet access and cloud services. This project is a critical component of our goal to expand broadband connectivity, which is itself an important pillar of our Economic Sustainability Plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Working with Microsoft, we intend to enhance the skills of 5 million Nigerians through this increased Internet access over the next three years in various digital skills that will increase both employability and entrepreneurship.
“The multiplier effect will provide opportunities in rural and urban areas for many young people and will help us tackle the unemployment problems exacerbated by the pandemic,” he said.
Using digital tools under the project, the vice president said that “we will be pioneering innovative approaches in the fight against corruption, one of the top priorities of this administration.”
Continuing, said the vice president, “taking advantage of Microsoft technology tools that can be implemented to minimize governance risks and block loopholes, working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we will seek to use analytical and case management tools cutting edge to plug holes in our public sector system, as well as tackle white collar crime efficiently.
“This pillar will also fulfill a vital social function. by using Microsoft artificial intelligence technology and resources to preserve and promote our core languages so that we can revitalize these important aspects of our culture.
“Our focus is, of course, the Nigerian people. With more than 80 million regular Internet users, there is no doubt that Nigerians have fully embraced technology, the Internet and its various uses, ”added the Vice President.
For his part, the president of Microsoft Corporation, Mr. Brad Smith, said that “we believe in the future of Nigeria and we are excited as a company to add to our investments. It is a country that we have had the opportunity to get to know better in recent years ”.
According to Smith, “In 2018 we partnered with Tek experts to create a Customer Service Center, a center in Lagos that employs more than 1,600 people. And then we had another opportunity to further expand our investment by creating our African Development Center.
“A center that, by the end of this year, will employ more than 200 software developers and engineers, people who are creating Microsoft technology and products to serve not just the people of Nigeria but the people of the world.
“All of this is giving us the kind of confidence to want to invest even more. And one of the things that we have recognized as a company is the need to grow with communities and countries and not just buying for ourselves, “he said.
On the new partnership with the Federal Government, Mr. Smith said, “We are embarking on a series of truly multi-faceted and broad-based investments to better serve Nigeria in three areas of internet connectivity, digital skills and digital transformation. We will provide digital skills to 5 million Nigerians over the next three years and, along the way, we will create 27,000 new jobs during the same period. “