The federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, has taken bold steps to grow youth talent in the areas of coding and other digital skills development, and has called for collaboration in 16 states, including Abuja, the federal capital territory.
Recently, the ministry announced a call for host organisations in 16 states that are interested in partnering to activate Code Clubs in its 17 Digital Knowledge Exchange Centres spread across Nigeria. The call is in line with the federal government’s vision to train three million Nigerian youths on digital skills that will drive digital innovation across the country, as contained in the Strategic Blueprint for 2023-2027, which was released last year by the ministry.
Code Club, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy in partnership with Raspberry Pi Foundation, is targeted at enabling young Nigerians aged 7 to 17 years to learn a broad spectrum of coding and technology related subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
This, according to government, will be a significant step in the ministry’s journey to build a pipeline of young digital literates and innovators.
The federal government’s initiative, according to industry stakeholders, will boost Nigeria’s demand for digital skills and increase her share of STEM employees in its workforce among African countries.
Current statistics placed Nigeria’s demand for digital skills at 12 per cent, with Egypt topping the chart of selected African countries with 31 per cent, followed by South Africa with 25 per cent. Congo is rated 11 per cent, Kenya 10 per cent, Uganda six per cent, and Burundi two per cent for digital skills demand.
The statistics also rated Nigeria low at 2.83 per cent share of STEM employees in its workforce among some selected African countries, while Egypt topped the chart with 6.85 per cent share of STEM employees in its workforce, followed by South Africa with 5.70 per cent share of STEM employees in its workforce, Congo with 3.53 per cent share of STEM employees in its workforce, Kenya 2.27 per cent share of STEM employees, Uganda 1.49 per cent share of STEM employees and Burundi having 0.57 per cent share of STEM employees in its workforce.
Announcing the federal government’s initiative, Special Adviser to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, on Strategic Communications, Osibo Imhoitsike, said the available Knowledge Exchange Centres across the 16 states and Abuja, would serve as original prototypes, adding that government will put in motion, its plan to expand the initiative to more locations nationwide.
“The federal ministry will give host organisations access to the centres with a view to putting it to good use for the benefit of local communities. Therefore, organisations with a track record in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics training are urged to express their interest to partner government on the initiative,” Imhoitsike said in a statement, which THISDAY obtained from the ministry’s official website.
He listed the current Knowledge Exchange Centres across 16 states and the federal capital territory to include Gombe, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Kogi, Imo, Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Enugu, Borno, Katsina, Jigawa, Taraba, Osun, Lagos and Abuja.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, had last year, unveiled the ministry’s strategic blueprint for 2023-2027 titled, “Accelerating our Collective Prosperity through Technical Efficiency”, which set a target to train three million Nigerians in technical talents that will open up more employment opportunities, accelerate the nation’s economic productivity through technical efficiency in line with the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The minister, in the 33 paged document said: “This Strategic Blueprint is a detailed and progressive framework that encompasses five key pillars: Knowledge, Policy, Infrastructure, Innovation-Entrepreneurship-Capital (IEC) and Trade. Each pillar is integral to our mission and interconnected with others, forming the foundation of our strategy.”
Speaking on the five pillars, Tijani said: “Knowledge is the cornerstone upon which innovation thrives, and is built upon the bedrock of sound policies. Infrastructure provides the essential backbone for a thriving digital economy, while innovation and entrepreneurship drive economic diversification. Trade, the fifth pillar, represents our commitment to global collaboration and partnerships, recognising that innovation knows no borders.”
The Strategic Blueprint, which the ministry is riding on to enhance coding and other digital skills across the country, provides a well-articulated roadmap, which seeks to leverage on the power of knowledge to develop digital talents, invest in research and achieve 70 per cent digital inclusion by 2027, Imhoitsike further said.