Minister of Communication, Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has assured Bayelsa State of support in its plans to develop ICT human capital among its youths and to make the state a hub for technology innovations.
Shittu told the Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson and other senior officials during the recent official launch of the ‘Baylesa ICT Ignition Week’ and ‘Innovation Ecosystem’ in Yenagoa that the ministry will offer policy and personnel support to enable Bayelsa state create the appropriate framework for development of digital capacity among its young population.
Shittu said the “digital economy holds huge potential for entrepreneurs and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs). New digital trends such as cloud computing, mobile web services, Big Data , Artificial Intelligence, smart grids and social media, are radically changing the business landscape, reshaping the nature of work, the boundaries of enterprises and the responsibilities of business leaders. We need no further conviction that we have entered the age of the Digital Economy.”
While expressing happiness by the launch of the ‘Baylesa ICT Ignition Week’ as a start-point to train young digital entrepreneurs in the state, assured that the ministry will be both a partner and a mentor in achieving the desired objectives of creating digital geeks for the knowledge economy.
“ICT is a critical component of the world’s economies today, having permeated all sectors. The importance of ICT innovations cannot be over emphasized as it has shown to be the world highest earning sector as most of the world richest personalities evolved from ICT innovations and entrepreneurship, hence the need to build the capacity of our teaming youths in digital skills to enable them compete with their peers across the globe” said Shittu while commending the state for setting the pace to run initiatives designed for capacity building around ICT in the Niger Delta region.
“It is my pleasure and privilege for being with you on the occasion of the Official Launch of the Baylesa ICT Ignition Week & Innovation Ecosystem on the important theme: Human Capital & Youth Development in Bayelsa through ICT For Economic Restoration. It is apt and could not have come at a better time than this when government is putting all measures in place to leverage ICTs and to reposition our national economy,” said Shittu while being welcome by Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson.
“This Ignition Program put together by Young Innovators of Nigeria (YIN) in collaboration with Bayelsa State Government demonstrates Rt. Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson’s commitment to restore Bayelsa State youths with requisite 21st century skills that will transform the state’s natural wealth to human capital and will further boast the quality of skills by start-ups across Bayelsa State through investing in human capacity which is a vital component of the ICTs growth strategy. We believe that our capacity to compete in the global market greatly depends on the ability of our people to innovate and apply the relevant technology for growth and development,” added Shittu.
Part of the objectives of the ‘Ignition Program’ is to create opportunities for startups to take their business to the next level; help develop Bayelsa State Technology Forum (BSTF); provide young people the opportunity to explore software engineering/application development; and provide a common platform for young people to interact with local / global industry figures and policy makers.
“The initiative is expected to open a portfolio of opportunities in entrepreneurship for young people to self-initiate and create jobs in challenges times such as the country is experiencing now,” said Shittu while assuring the governor and the state of ready support in the ministry to help build ‘an army of geeks’ from Bayelsa State.
“We have come to recognise the critical role of IT in manpower development and the high prospect to build an economy out of unwholesome dependency on natural resources. Our youth are our wealth and we believe a centre that encourages their natural talent to innovate is important to building a new Bayelsa that is prosperous and peaceful. We are glad to have the honourable minister with us and his team which demonstrates his commitment to the sector and our country, said Governor Dickson while thanking Shittu for visiting the state.
He said the government was encouraged to partner with YIN as part of a new pathway to build in people and to digitally enable the youths of the state to join their peers outside the country in the new knowledge economy. “We are setting up ICT resource centres and investing in human capacity for the new economy which is not based on natural resources but knowledge.”
“We look forward to achieving the objectives of the ‘Baylesa ICT Ignition Week’ and ‘Innovation Ecosystem’. Also, we assured the state of our commitment to train an inspire a new generation of technology leaders from this programme with the support of the government,” said YIN’s president Abu Andrew. YIN is led by Andrew and Head of Business Development Engr. Jeffery Udende, who is also a Senior Special Assistant to Benue State Governor on ICT
Immediate past director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Peter Jack drew on the governor’s words to declare that the new imperative for development was young people and technology. His words: “ The honourable minister has rightly observed that there’s no future outside of ICT and capacity development in young people. I am happy that the Young Innovators of Nigeria (YIN) has initiated to work with government at federal and state levels to provide the building blocks to create a knowledge direction for our young people in this state.”
The event was facilitated by resource speakers that include founder of Jidaw Systems and a Fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Mr. Jide Awe; Mr. Fola Olatunji-David – Head of Startup Success and Services at Google Nigeria; founder of Network of Incubators and Innovators in Nigeria (NINe), Mr. Bankole Oloruntoba; founder of Startup Arewa, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim Jega; CEO of Qitech Technology and editor at IT Edge News, Olusegun Oruame; founder of Agribooth, Raymond Chen; and Director of ICT, Benue State University, Mr. Terna Abuul among other trainers.