By Grace Yusuf
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said 30 of Nigeria’s best start-up ideas in innovative technology would be on display in the maiden Aso Villa Demo Day.
Osinbajo disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day Google Digital Training programme for youth employment with the theme: “Diversifying the Nigerian Economy: Enabling Youth through Digital Skills Training’’.
The Vice President said the initiative was part of government’s plan to create opportunities for young people to be engaged in productive ventures.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier launched a special initiative on innovative technology and start-ups while presentation of prospective participants had already been done in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
The Vice President advised Nigerian youths to leverage on the window created by government and see the present age as one that offered them an opportunity to embrace “multi-tasking”.
Osinbajo said that the opportunities abound for professionals with multi skills to excel in the period of economic hardship and joblessness, adding that innovation was the best way to go.
“For any student today, I think that we must appreciate that this is the age of multi-tasking.
“You cannot just be an economist, an accountant, or a lawyer or a graduate of international relations, or mass communication or performing arts and just remain that way.
“Multi skilling is crucial today, multi-tasking is the order of the day; You can’t just be one thing.’’
The vice president emphasised that every young man must to be “a man of affairs, a versatile operator and not a mono skill graduate.’’
According to him, there are many opportunities and practically anything can be learned online today.
“Whatever you choose to do, be technology savvy and understand its best uses in your chosen discipline,’’ he said.
The vice president applauded the Google programme targeting 400,000 Nigerians as beneficiaries out of one million Africans.
He said that with the programme a new future had certainly arrived for the youth “and it is a future that has come bearing great hope’’.
He said that technology had opened mind-bugling opportunities in commerce, science and medicine and practically all aspects of human endeavour.
“Today technology has created space for millions of business opportunities.
“Just by being able to virtually connect millions of people, the internet has changed the business landscape and empowered anyone with great ideas and any smart handheld device.’’
Osinbajo said it was in recognition of the central role of innovation and technology in the national economic growth plan that the Federal Government in the current budget provided extensively for technology and innovation.
According to him, the administration is establishing technology hubs across the country with two super hubs in Lagos and Abuja and six regional hubs in the six geo-political zones.
He said that in partnership with several major technology companies, the hubs would be fully resourced with infrastructure and capacity building tools.
He said that each hub would be designed to produce relevant innovative technology, solutions to a wide range of business, commercial and government problems.
Osinbajo also noted that starting this year, the administration had budgeted for the training of 65,000 young Nigerians in hardware and software services and more sophisticated software such as animation.
“This would mean that we would be building more local capacity to build, assemble hardware and to write innovative programmes.
“We will also be focusing on technology for media and entertainment.
“We intend to create a reservoir of human capacity in technology that can be exported internationally.
“Nigeria can lead India as a market for technology and innovation talent,’’ he added.
Osinbajo gave the assurance that all agencies of government were together and determined to give every opportunity possible to the youth in technology and innovation.
“I can assure you that the next few years are going to be great indeed.’’
The Vice President thanked Google for the initiative and offer to open the minds of the young Nigerians to the limitless opportunities that thousands of web tools available could offer.
He described the Google’s training of 400,000 young people as a monumental contribution to the national plan and in particular to economic development.
“The exciting prospect of this training is that it unleashes the creativity and innovation and the boundless imaginative of the most productive segment of our society,’’ he said.
The Minister of Communications, Chief Adebayo Shittu said that ICT programme of the Buhari administration was to stimulate change, adding that to sustain innovation required continuous investments.
Shittu said that his ministry would collaborate with the education counterparts to promote ICT education in the country.
Also the Minister of Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and his Youth and Sports counterpart, Mr Solomon Dalung, pledged to put their ministries infrastructure available to Google to ensure quality digital training.
Mrs Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, the Google Country Manager, described Nigerian youths as very enterprising and resourceful.
She told the participants to take the training seriously and use the knowledge to improve themselves and the economy of the country.