In line with the federal government’s initiative to diversify the Nigerian economy and create job opportunities through the use of information and communications technology (ICT), experts in ICT have said the sector can create 35 million jobs in a few weeks, if the sector is adequately empowered.
The ICT experts who spoke at a technology event in Lagos recently, called on the federal government to intensify its efforts in diversifying the Nigerian economy through ICT, insisting that ICT could turn around the fortunes of the county within few years, if proper attention is given to the sector.
Vice Chairman, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) Mr. Austin Okere, explained how Nigeria could generate 35 million jobs in few weeks through adequate support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), using ICT.
“Nigeria can create 35 million jobs with ICT and not just with ICT enabled. We have 35 million SMEs in the country and each of them is expecting patronage from customers.
So what we have done in CWG is to provide cloud-based services for SMEs to upload their goods and services online, and connect them to payment portals and logistics. We also have software that handles accounting system for businesses and this will enable small businesses to do proper accounting system that will help their business grow.
Most times when SMEs want to upscale their business and they go to banks for loans, the banks hardly listen to them because they do not have proper accounting system,” Okere said.
He explained that if each of the 35 million registered SMEs in the country is empowered to scale-up their business and employ just one additional person, that will translate to 35 million jobs created in few days and not even the government can create such huge amount of job.
He quoted the Minster of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, as saying that the industry will create about 100,000 IT jobs in one year, explaining that the 100,000 IT jobs was a far cry from what the 35 million jobs that SMEs could create within a space of few weeks, if they are empowered.
“CWG has helped banks grow their customer base and the Diamond Yello Bank Account is a good example, when at the first instance of connecting the bank customers with our software solution, the bank recorded over six million customers. That is the power of technology, if properly harnessed,” Okere said.
“Aside banks, we are also helping telecoms companies to drive their customer base. What we do is to offer organisations with subscription-based technology that is quite cheaper for them to operate with, rather than for them to build their own IT infrastructure. Businesses need to be empowered technologically in order to meet the economic diversification dream of the federal government,” Okere added.
Speaking in the same vein, the Managing Director, Rack Centre, a co-location data centre, Mr. Ayotunde Cocker, explained how hosting of big data in Nigeria would boost technology development in the country.
“We have developed rack centre operations in Nigeria that could host a lot of big data for organisations in Nigeria, but we still found out that most organisations still host their big data outside the country, a situation, he said, would slow down technology growth rate and economic diversification in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ferdi Moolman, also spoke on the need for government to develop and support the ICT sector in order to achieve its economic diversification goals.
He said content development is key in today’s global technology innovation, while commending local content developers in ICT in Nigeria for their roles in driving digitisation in the country.
He said the ability to link individual bank accounts via the mobile phones, underpins the efforts of Nigerians in creating local content that meet the needs of the people. He therefore commended the federal government for its initiative to diversify the Nigerian economy, using ICT, and advised that more attention be given to ICT development in the country, especially now that oil can no longer sustain the economy of Nigeria.