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Lessons Nigeria can learn from Microsoft’s Global Skills Initiative 

Digital upskilling and reskilling will help individuals perform better in today’s on-demand jobs.

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Digital Natives, the limiting factor in Nigeria’s Age of e-Governance

A little while ago, Microsoft announced the launch of a global skills initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire digital skills by the end of the year. To accomplish this goal, the tech giant will be pulling resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft with 3 areas in focus:  

  1. Data in identifying in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them. 
  2. Free access to content that helps people develop the required skills. 
  3. Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools for these people. 

Microsoft also backs these efforts with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist the people who need it most. $5 million of which will be provided in cash grants to community-based nonprofit organizations that are led by and serve communities of color in the United States. 

Not only job seekers are set to benefit from this initiative, employees will also get the opportunity to skill and reskill through their careers. 

Microsoft gets it right and Nigeria can do the same 

Doing exactly the same may be far-reaching but as a country and what many will consider the tech hub of Africa, we too can pull resources together to help restore the economy through training in digital skills acquisition. 

2020 is one of the most trying years a lot of us have experienced and that is largely due to the pandemic and its resulting effects on the global economy. In Nigeria, jobs have taken quite the hit and professionals have found themselves having to find alternative ways to earn a living.  

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Truth is, Nigeria has almost always had an unemployment problem but the already widening gap between the employed, unemployed and underemployed is even more evident during this global crisis. The core of the problem falls on the lagging educational system and lack of learning opportunities.  

As expected, those who have to endure the effects of the economic recession are the minorities- those with inadequate education, disabled people, women, inexperienced workers etc. 

One of the most feasible ways to fully recover is through the development of new skills in line with the jobs available and the new ones being created on a daily. According to Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics, the Nigerian unemployment rate has climbed to 27.1% (up from 23.1% in Q3 2018) and the underemployment rate has increased to 28.6%.  

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To put in perspective, 21.7 million of a labour force of 80.2 million are unemployed, the most affected of this statistic are young Nigerians between ages 25 and 34 at 30.7%.  

Should we sit around waiting for the government to enforce economic policies that drive growth and create jobs or should we do something about it?  

The Nigerian Educational System is allocated 20% less than UNESCO’s benchmark for funding of education of the national budget, This Day reported. This is a major factor in the issues that eventually affect the labour force. At this point, private firms can then step to the plate and make changes as in the end, a flourishing economy means more business for them 

The need for digital transformation is critical, if nothing else, the pandemic has proven that we need to reskill and upskill to accelerate economic growth. Waiting around on policymakers simply will not cut it. We see that COVID-19 has brought about jobs that rely heavily on digital skills; even as society reopens we may find that for a minute, some workers resume in physical work-spaces while others keep working from home or remotely.  

The digitization of the economy is happening and it has happened fast right before our eyes. We are fortunate to be able to say we knew when it all changed. Companies and all sorts of entities not only in Nigeria have adjusted to these changes and without a doubt digital transformation will touch almost every part of the global workforce.  

Reskilling and upskilling in Nigeria is possible 

The challenge in Nigeria is less about if there are no efforts being put into training people for jobs but more about the existing training reaching the people who need it the most. 

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However, digital upskilling and reskilling like Microsoft’s offer to a lucky 25 million people is what could generously shut that gap. It will offer the chance to give equal opportunities to individuals who require the skills for today’s’ on-demand jobs. The rise of the COVID-19 helped accelerate this process and we can see many Nigerians evolving digitally in more ways than one because of this.  

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NetPlusDotCom, a Lagos based fintech offering tech solutions to local businesses began efforts in expediting the digital transformation process with a series of initiatives and products. The company organizes a free monthly webinar that teaches business owners and individuals in different fields, the importance of acquiring digital skills in order to stay relevant and productive. The company has also introduced a few products like Church by NetPlusPay that makes online payments much more seamless for its user and Business Corner which offers businesses and individuals the opportunity to earn money online with a personalized domain through their network.  

More internationally, TikTok according to Culture Custodian has launched its SkillsUP campaign that will drive the local community with tips on useful digital skills. The short-form mobile video platform has organized a series of sessions specifically designed to offer training to the new generation in order to advance career development.  

This Day reported also that even the British Government through its Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programmes has pledged to support and promote inclusive and sustainable digital access to unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria. In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Digital Access Programme hosted the first Nigeria Technical Conference on the Right of Way (ROW) to further aggregate views from key stakeholders towards the advancement of policy and regulatory reforms on ROW and issuance of planning permits for mast and towers.   

Hopefully, the policymakers grab a hold of this rather rare and extremely necessary opportunity to further support the digital transformation process in the country, in view of the fact that connectivity still poses a significant problem in Nigeria.  

Connectivity and broadband reach- this has to be the utmost setback in the transition to digital. In the end, a million extensive training programs made available will be worth absolutely nothing if the gap created by broadband and internet reach is not breached.  

Needless to say, even though a bit slow in the race, there has and still is a lot of effort being put in by Nigerians for Nigerians to facilitate upskilling and reskilling but the limitations are seemingly unsurmountable. However, we can be hopeful with initiatives like the NCC’s 70% Broadband Penetration Plan and ROW with the British Government among others.  

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Jenrade is a Senior Marketing Analyst at NetPlusDotCom. NetPlusDotCom is a technology and digital payment company, with a mission to provide innovative payment digital solution. The company has a content partnership with Nairametrics. All articles written by Jenrade or NetPlusDotCom are their opinions and do not represent the opinions of Nairametrics.

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Market Views

Biggest IPO: World’s biggest Fintech plans to raise $34 billion 

Ant Group has begun the process of a concurrent initial public offering in what could mark one of the biggest IPOs of 2020.

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Biggest IPO: World's biggest Fintech plans to raise $34 billion 

The world’s payment juggernaut, Ant Group, is hoping to raise $34.5 billion in its dual initial public offering (IPO) after setting the price for its shares today, making it the biggest listing of all in modern history, in a report credited to CNBC news.

The Chinese financial powerhouse had earlier disclosed previously that it would divide its stock issuance equally across Chinese major stock exchanges, which include Shanghai and Hong Kong, issuing 1.67 billion new shares at each of those exchanges.

READ: Square buys $50 million worth of Bitcoins

READ: Airtel announces share price today as pre-IPO interest hits $200 million

READ: This report explains why Nigerians are bent on leaving the country

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Ant Group’s Shanghai-listed shares will be quoted at 68.8 yuan each. The issuing of 1.67 billion shares would raise 114.94 billion yuan or $17.23 billion.

  • The Hong Kong-listed shares have been priced at 80 Hong Kong dollars each, raising 133.65 billion Hong Kong dollars or $17.24 billion.
  • The listing would produce a return of at least $34.5 billion, as the figure could go higher if the so-called over-allotment option is exercised, depending on demand.
  • It would make it the largest initial public offer of recent memory, putting it ahead of previous record-holder Saudi Aramco, which raised about $29 billion.

READ: MTN may rake in $600 million from Jumia’s planned listing

READ: Jack Ma’s fintech firm is set for IPO, signalling prospects for Nigerian fintechs

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READ: Gold futures drops to $1727.80 as America, China tension deepens

What you should know

Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial and Alipay, is an affiliate company of the popularly known e-commerce company Alibaba.

  • Ant Group remains the world’s most valuable FinTech company, and most valuable unicorn company, with a target valuation of over US$280 billion.
  • The group owns China’s largest digital payment platform, Alipay, which serves over one billion users and 80 million merchants, with total payment volume (TPV) transaction reaching RMB118 trillion in June 2020.

Explore Data on the Nairametrics Research Website

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Business

5 Nigerian startups selected to join 7 others at the Africa Tech Summit Connects (ATS)

5 Nigerian startups to join 7 other African firms on the Africa Tech Summit Connects (ATS).

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Five Nigerian firms have been shortlisted among the 12 African startups to pitch live at this month’s digital Africa Tech Summit Connects in Kigali, Rwanda.

This is to showcase their solutions to the global audience of 500 investors, corporates, and other stakeholders.

Disrupt Africa and Africa Tech Summit (ATS) disclosed it had reviewed its partnership to integrate startup-focused sessions plenary and pitching chances in its virtual Africa Tech Summit Connects event scheduled to hold virtually on the 20th – 22nd of October 2020.

What you need to know

ATS is a fully-virtual event and not a webinar. The event would maximize their time with AI-powered smart matchmaking and give startups opportunities in the online business community.

Why this matters

The three days course will enable them to engage with parties through a variety of online mediums. It would encourage the exhibition of recent developments in the continent across the start-up world, and it would focus on fintech, logistics, ed-tech, agri-tech, e-commerce, investment, regulation and policy, blockchain, connectivity.

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With over 50 African tech start-up applicants seeking to raise either pre-seed, seed, or Series A funding; 5 out of the 12 selected to participate and present their solutions to the audience, and also connect virtually with those interested are Nigerian start-ups. The selected start-up companies are;

  • Medsaf (Nigeria),
  • Seso Global (Nigeria),
  • Wella Health (Nigeria),
  • Vybe (Nigeria),
  • Scrapays (Nigeria),
  • Agro Innova (Ghana),
  • PayDunya (Senegal),
  • Snode (South Africa),
  • Moja Ride (Ivory Coast),
  • Eneza Telecom (Kenya),
  • Kolute Systems (Senegal),
  • Abiria (Kenya).

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Spotlight Stories

#EndSARS: Popular hacking group, Anonymous allegedly hacks Nigerian Govt. websites

Anonymous disclosed via its Twitter handle, that it had breached some Nigerian government websites.

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#EndSARS: Popular hacking group, Anonymous allegedly hacks Nigerian Govt. websites, How to protect your bank account from phishing attempts

Popular hacking group, Anonymous has claimed via its Twitter handle, that it had breached some Nigerian government websites.

READ: PZ Cussons suffers a pre-tax loss of N7.984 billion in 2020

The act is said to be in support of the ongoing #EndSARS protest that has taken over many cities in Nigeria, following calls for the disbandment of notorious police unit, the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) which has been alleged to be involved in abduction, harassment, extortion and murder of innocent victims.

READ: #EndSARS: I support the youths in this peaceful protests – Pastor Adeboye

Anonymous tweet, “Nigeria: Anonymous hacks multiple government websites in solidarity with #EndSARS protestors and retribution for violence by police. #OpNigeria #EndSARS Protest.”

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That said Anonymous did not disclose the identity of websites breached.

READ: #EndSARS: IGP says checking phones of Nigerians by any officer not acceptable

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Backstory

Nairametrics had earlier given vital insights on how for years, young Nigerians, mostly via social media, have called for the unit to be disbanded and rogue elements in the force brought to justice. Despite repeated promises by the government, they have failed to heed to their demands, triggering a new wave of protests that have now spread across the country.

READ: #EndSARS: Lagos sets up N200 million fund for victims of police brutality

What you should know

Anonymous is a popular decentralized global activist group that is popularly known for many cyberattacks against several governments, government agencies, corporations, and the Church of Scientology.

READ: #EndSARS: Despite scrapping SARS, why are Nigerians still protesting?

Why it matters

From demanding an end to SARS, prosecution of rogue police officers, and reforms; protesters are more emboldened, threatening to continue if all their demands are not met. The government is scrambling to contain a situation that is escalating and could dangerously metamorphose into violent clashes with authorities, leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties.

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