Osinbajo announces Nigeria, Microsoft deal to bring digital benefits to over 5m citizens

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The Nigerian government has announced its partnership with Microsoft Corporation to advance the country’s digital economy in line with the Economic Sustainability Plan.

More than five million Nigerians are to benefit from a digital upskilling programme inked in the partnership. ,

In addition, all of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones are to enjoy accelerated connectivity, skilling and digital transformation as part of the deal sealed earlier this year after discussions between Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and Microsoft President Brad Smith.  

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

“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  five million Nigerians through this increased internet access over the next three years in various digital skills which will increase both employability and entrepreneurship,” the vice president announced.

He added that the ability to leverage digital tools under the project will pioneer innovative approaches in the fight against corruption.

His words: “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.”

The computer giant assured the country of its commitment to helping it achieve its digital agenda.

”In 2018 we partnered with Tek experts to create a Customer Support Centre, a centre 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,” said Smith.

“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,” he added.

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