By Nwakaego Alajemba
President Muhammadu Buhari has been commended for his administration’s support to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among young Nigerians through numerous programmes targeting the empowerment of millions of youths across the country.
The president was publicly acknowledged for his achievements by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and the Director-General/CEO of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir. Joseph N. Ari at the just ended HackJos Conference 2019 that held inside the Jos Business School and was attended by stakeholders drawn from across the country.
Buhari scaling up entrepreneurship
“The Buhari administration has scaled up efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation through a number of initiatives. The Executive Order No. 001 of 2017, which dwelt on the ease of doing business, is one of such measures.
“As evidence that successes have been recorded in this regard, the latest ranking of doing business 2020 index by the World Bank indicated that Nigeria had moved 15 places from 146 in 2018 to 131 in 2019 of the 190 countries that were assessed,” said Ari at the conference organised nHub, Nigeria’s foremost tech and innovation hub in the north of the country.
“Similarly, as an indication of its determination and drive towards the revamping of the MSMEs sub-sector, which is a critical vehicle for in innovation and entrepreneurship the President appointed no less personality than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to chair the MSMEs Council.
“His appointment marked the beginning of a robust strategy aimed at encouraging budding entrepreneurs as the Council was almost in every State of the Federation organizing the MSMEs Clinics. It must be noted that Plateau State was the first to host the Vice-President and his team for the MSME Clinic.
“The event was a huge success as various budding entrepreneurs displayed their wares and innovations. Similar successes were recorded in other states across the country where the event held,” added Ari in a paper presentation on ‘How Innovation and Entrepreneurship within Companies can foster Business, Human Development and Prosperity.’
Plateau retooling youths for entrepreneurship
Earlier, the Governor Lalong commended President Buhari for enabling a national agenda for youth to become entrepreneurs by leveraging innovation and technology.
This has informed the thinking within Plateau State to also drive an agenda for development leveraging on the ability of young people to acquire new skills in ICT.
“We have persistently committed to the ideals that young people are the cornerstone of genuine development and that exposing them to new skills or retooling them to become more enterprising and creative is cardinal to driving real growth,” said Lalong to declare the HACKJOSCON2019 open.
“In the ITF, which is the leading Federal Government Agency with the mandate to provide, promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in industry and commerce in Nigeria, we have been at the forefront of this charge since the assumption of office of the incumbent management in 2016.
“Between 2016 to date, we have developed and implemented a number of skills intervention programmes aimed at accelerating and fast tracking the impartation of technical skills to Nigerians in order to create jobs and reduce unemployment in line with the Federal Government policy direction.
“Over 450,000 Nigerians have so far benefitted from these programmes, which include the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP), Construction Skills Empowerment Programme (CONSEP), Agripreneurship and the Skills Training Empowerment Programme for the Physically Challenged (STEPP–C) amongst many others,” said the ITF’s boss who was represented by the Deputy Director/Head ICT Division, Mr. Dickson Onuoha.
Government can do more
Other stakeholders, notably private sector players, also believe that the federal government has achieved much to rework the MSMEs sub-sector. But they want government to do more.
Both the CEOs of Bluewhale Microfinance, Simeon Iliya and Qitech Technologies, Olusegun Oruame affirmed that private enterprises can scale up faster and be more sustainable with enhanced impetus that are of long term nature in terms of low interest capital, for example.
The HACKJOSCON2019 focused on the role of the private sector as a critical driver of economic growth, social development, and creator of jobs.
The mix of stakeholders deliberated on how public-private collaboration could create workable frameworks that could pull millions out of unemployment and re-skill others for new profitable careers within the tech ecosystem, organisers announced in Jos, today.
An initiative of nHub as part of efforts to deepen conversations on creating a tech-driven economy, promoting innovation hubs across the country and kitting young people with software and entrepreneurship skills, HACKJOSCON2019 was supported by ITF, Smartweb, Qitech Technologies Limited, Bluewhale, and Knowhow Media International & market Intelligence (KMMIIL) Ltd.
Some of the initiatives to drive the agenda for innovation and entrepreneurship on the Plateau include the Code Plateau targeting to train more than 100 young people to acquire software skills and the Mobile on Wheel geered at both creating awareness on ICT across the 17 local government areas as well as building partnerships at grassroots levels to promote capacity in young people, said Director General of the Plateau State Information and Communication Technology Development Agency (PICTDA) who represented Governor Lalong.
As the largest technology and innovation hub in the north of Nigeria helping to re-skill thousands of young people, nHub believes innovation and technology will drive the new economy, and need stakeholders collaboration involving the private and public sectors to create non-oil based economic values and jobs,” said CEO of nHub, longji Theodore.