Developing Skills with Technology

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Emma Okonji writes that most apps released by telecoms operators for value added services do not only boost market strategies, but also develop the innate abilities of subscribers

Since the inception of Global System for Mobile communications in 2001, telecoms operators have been passionate about releasing various applications and solutions, geared towards enhancing customer experience. Some of the apps and solutions have actually helped customers expand their businesses, while others have helped customers to develop their innate skills and make them more technology savvy in today’s world that is virtually driven by technology.

Addressing the issue of skills development, using available apps,  at the MTN Foundation Scholarship Alumni conference, held recently in Imo, Abuja and Lagos, most of the guest speakers and beneficiaries of the conference, explained how they had over the years developed themselves, using available apps released by telecoms operators and other technology developers.

The 2017 MTN Foundation Scholarship Alumni conference, which was held in three locations across the country, saw a cross section of beneficiaries from the foundation’s scholarship scheme that were enlightened and inspired by young and enterprising Nigerians.

 

The issues

 The founder and CEO of Slot Systems Limited, who doubles as the co-founder of Tecno Mobile, Mr. Nnamdi Ezeigbo, who was one of the special guest at the MTN Foundation Scholarship Alumni conference, narrated how most Nigerians had developed themselves over time, using available apps and solutions provided by telecoms operators. Using himself as an example, Ezeigbo said he studied electrical electronics engineering in his first degree, and because he could not find the kind of job he wanted, he decided to create one for himself. “So what I did was to look inward to see my strength and capacity. My capacity is in engineering. I had to do something within the context of engineering. I decided to go for training to acquire the competence of becoming a computer engineer. I could have tried something else, maybe fashion design, but of course I had no passion for fashion design. It was easier for me to look at my strength. That strength was acquired from my undergraduate days in the university. I became an engineer by virtue of going to school,” he said.

According to him, “People today lack competence that could actually make them employable, even though they have the required certifications. This is the reason why so many youths are jobless. People need to understand that you need to spend more time and money to acquire the right training in other to have your desired work. You have to become a solution provider for you to create wealth and also survive in an unpredictable environment like Nigeria. The solution can never get attractive.

“When I started 18 years ago, the environment was volatile, very tough. There was nothing that could attract anyone. There was nothing to show that this is the best time,” Ezeigbo.

Giving the full meaning of the acronym SLOT and what inspired the business name, Ezeigbo said ‘S’ stood for solution provision, ‘L’ stood for leadership, ‘O’ for opportunity and ‘T’ for technology.

He said solution provision remained the most effective way to create wealth for the society. “One of the things I have done is the introduction of the Tecno brand to the Nigerian market. Today Tecno has over 1,000 people surviving under the brand. I introduced Tecno in 2006, because I noticed that there was a problem of poor service. In Nigeria, people carry phones and multiple sim cards just to have access to good network. I started thinking that couldn’t they have been a phone with two or three sims. So I had to introduce Tecno to the environment,” Ezeigbo said.

According to him, it took about three years for him to grow the brand in Nigeria and today Tecno is not just for the lower income earners/mass market, even the middle class has to accept it. “Tecno has been the right point of my career as a business man, because when you identify need, you create a hitch and you equally create blue ocean, which of course does not last because soon, it will become red ocean. But before it becomes red ocean, you must have created wealth and economic gain for yourself and that was what I did,” he stated.

Speaking on leadership, he said leadership remained key to any entrepreneur who wanted to be successful. He advised aspiring entrepreneurs to adopt good leadership style, using available technology, in order to grow their business.

He said, “One of the things about leadership training is that you need to understand technology. You need to understand your business. You need self-awareness skills. You need to know your strength,

Elaborating more on technology skills, he said, “This is a wonderful platform for people to do business, to compete and to make more money at a much reduced cost. Technology makes you smarter, and this is a time for smart people. As scholars you need to use your brains to make money. Think of a smarter way to solve problems; do not use complex solutions to solve complex problems. Be dynamic. Look for opportunities around you and convert them to naira.”

Another guest speaker, and proponent of Made-in-Aba initiative, Mr. Sam Hart, who is a legal practitioner and currently the senior special adviser to the governor of Abia State on public communications, told his story of how he used apps and available technology tools to better his lot. He said he had worked with three different governors of the state for over 14 years. “I do believe that perhaps there is something I am doing right that makes every governor of Abia State to always invite me to work with them, and this is technology.

“I am the initiator and the lead driver of the project Made in Aba. Over time, Made-in-Aba used to be synonymous to inferior product. My remit is to change that narrative and we need to start looking at stuff that comes from Aba as something of quality.”

Expatiating on what makes a winning idea, Hart said: “It has to be out of the ordinary. Everybody tells you to think outside the box, but I say to you, think like there is no box. Think like no box exists and go out and create your own thing; that is being distinctive. If you do the same thing that everyone keeps doing all the time, then you cannot be extraordinary, and you cannot be different from others.”

 

Beneficiaries

 Some of the participants, who were beneficiaries, narrated how the MTN foundation Science and Technology Scheme helped them in overcoming their challenges, with the help of technology apps and tools.

Inuka Chiamake, a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, said: “I am a beneficiary and alumni of the MTN foundation Science and Technology Scheme. My parent appreciated this kind gesture the most. They were astonished at the fact that gestures like this still exist in the country. The workshop is more like an exposure to me. It opened my eyes to certain things. I always have this fear in me that my background had not exposed me to see the real world. I am happy to be part of the alumni. It is a very nice platform to bring people that MTN foundation has helped together. It will go a long way towards networking and sharing knowledge.”

Another beneficiary of the MTN Foundation Scholarship Scheme, Damilare Ishola, a 400 level Guidance and Counselling student of Lagos State University, also lauded the scheme and the impact it had made in their lives. He revealed that life after he lost his sight was difficult until MTN Foundation came to his rescue. Ishola said, “I lost my sight due to some unforeseen circumstances beyond human control. Life was very tough as I felt rejected and abused. I waited at home for years not knowing what to do next. When I heard about MTN foundation I had to put more effort on my academics. My name was listed among the qualified candidates and since then my condition has changed for the better. I thank the MTN foundation for coming to my rescue.”

Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma, charged the alumni to work with the right people as they journey through life. “Make sure you select the right person to go ahead with you in your journey,” she said.