Osinbajo: FG, Microsoft New Partnership to Benefit 5m Nigerians

AREWA AGENDA – Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, Monday disclosed that the Federal Government has partnered with technology giant, Microsoft Corporation, for a digital upskilling programme that will benefit no fewer than five million Nigerians and as well help in the fight against corruption.

The partnership anchored on connectivity, skilling and digital transformation followed discussions between both parties led by the Vice President and Microsoft President Brad Smith earlier in the year.

Speaking in a formal video announcement of the partnership, Osinbajo said government was committed to leveraging innovation and technology to bring better outcomes across a wide area of governance concerns.

He said the programme to be spread across the nation’s six geo-political zones will also enjoy active internet connection and cloud services courtesy of this digital transformation plan.

According to the VP, the multiplier effect will bring opportunities in rural and urban areas to many young people and will help us deal with unemployment problems made worse by the pandemic.

Said he: “We plan to connect under-served communities in each of the six geo-political zones with access to internet and cloud services. This project is a critical component of our objective of expanding broadband connectivity, which is by itself, a major pillar of our Economic Sustainability Plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Working with Microsoft, we intend to upskill 5 million Nigerians through this increased internet access over the next three years in various digital skills which will increase both employability and entrepreneurship.”

Osinbajo further said the use of digital tools under the project, will pioneer innovative approaches in the fight against corruption, a major priority of this administration.

He said, “Leveraging Microsoft’s Technology tools which can be deployed to minimise governance risks and block loopholes, working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we will seek to use cutting edge analytical and case management tools to plug holes in our public sector system as well as confront white-collar criminality efficiently.

“This pillar will also serve a vital social function. by using Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence technology and resources to preserve and promote our major languages so we can revitalize these important aspects of our culture. Our focus is of course the Nigerian people. With over 80 million regular internet users, there is no question that Nigerians have fully embraced technology, the internet and their various uses.”

Also speaking, President of Microsoft Corporation, Mr Brad Smith said the firm believes in the future of Nigeria and is excited as a company “to add to our investments, it is a country we have had the opportunity to get to know better over the last few years”

Smith said, ”In 2018 we partnered with Tek experts to create a Customer Support Centre, a center in Lagos that employs over 1,600 people. And then we had another opportunity to broaden our investment even more by creating our African Development Centre. A centre that, by the end of this year, will employ over 200 software developers and engineers, people who are creating technology and Microsoft products to serve not only the people of Nigeria but the people of the world.

“All of these 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. We are embarking on a series of broad-based, really multifaceted investments to better serve Nigeria in three areas of internet connectivity, digital skilling and digital transformation. We will be providing digital skills to 5 million Nigerians over the next three years, and along the way, creating 27,000 new jobs during the same period.”

By Deji Elumoye

Arewa Agenda is a publication of young writers and journalists from Northern Nigeria geared towards peaceful coexistence and national development through positive narratives.

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