Nigeria, and indeed, Africa’s ability to develop the youths’ digital skills will definitely bequeath some economic powers, according to some information and communications technology (ICT) experts.
The experts who spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek on the backdrop of statistics shared by World Bank, unanimously agreed that technology is the promise and ultimately the final hope for Africa’s youth.
According to the World Bank, 11 million youths enter the African labour market every year over the next decade.Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, CEO, InfoGraphics, said, “Africa will indeed be the youngest continent on the planet between 2030 and 2050 depending on whose data you use. Between 2017 and then, the continent will either fracture or surge. If the latter, it will be wrenched violently apart by the uncontainable forces of food insecurity, plunging health, social dislocation, rural to urban surges, functional illiteracy and a dysfunctional education system, an expanding digital divide and negative technology penetration, crime/cybercrime and other vices.
“Any African of working age (18-65) is challenged by the same things his counterparts the world over are: relevant skills/competencies and opportunities for self-actualisation.
He said that the 21st century of the age of the entrepreneur – Africa’s youth will enter the workforce earlier as both employee and employer, they will work in diverse sectors in different functions for much longer than any generation preceding them. “The key to this is to empower them with capacity – knowledge, tools and competence – to create economic value for themselves and the community in which they live. Every aspect of their lives will be mediated through technology and digital literacy and fluency will be the critical determinant in their self-actualisation”.
Mr. Olaniyi Alao, president and CEO of Web4Africa, spoke on how to fast track digital skills development in Nigeria, and urged the authorities, Federal and State Ministries of Education, to ensure that even more institutions offer IT-related skills as part of their degree and diploma courses.
“Of course, every secondary school student needs to deliberately acquire some IT skills during their free time. Social networking activities from smartphones are hardly usable skills unless one is a celebrity.
On his part, Mr. Celestine Achi, founder of DigitalPRWire, believes the African proverb that says, “He that must lead the orchestra, must learn to back the crowd. To Fast track digital skills, emphasis must be placed on collaborative learnings, partnerships and startups support. The future success of Nigeria’s youth depends on their ability to understand and use technology effectively”, he said.