The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Business Machine, (IBM), to bridge the huge digital literacy gap in Nigeria.
Speaking at the signing of the MOU, yesterday, in Abuja, Country General Manager of IBM Nigeria, Dipo Faulkner, observed that digital economy and emerging technologies have brought changes in skill requirements as well as unemployment globally today. He stressed the need to bridge the gap between education and entrepreneurship to ensure that people don’t acquire education alone, but that they also have skills for self-sustainability and development of their environment.
Faulkner noted that IBM has a project known as, Digital Nations Africa, which is a free online platform for digital literacy, and expressed the hope that the MoU will be mutually beneficial.He said: “This will be IBM’s contributions to Nigeria to help bridge the skills gap. We cannot afford to be left behind in the digital economy.”
In his remarks, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, said the signing of the agreement is very strategic, timely ,and very relevant to the digital economy policy strategy of the government. Pantami noted that there is a huge digital literacy gap in the country, especially in the rural areas, adding that one of the objectives of the MoU is to create a pool of Nigerians with digital skills that can be validated through globally recognised certification.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari has launched Nigeria’s Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, as part of the pillars for digital literacy and skills, which are critical to achieving digital economy.
The minister said to implement the digital economy, there must be broadband services, stressing that the Federal Government wants to ensure that the broadband strategy is implemented. He said: “We want to increase broadband penetration; we are still having challenges like the issue of Right of Way, which is why we are pleading with the governors to understand that broadband is key to our economic growth and development. It will increase the nation’s GDP. The broadband penetration is currently at 37.5 percent, we are making progress, and we are addressing the obstacles to our broadband penetration.
“This MoU will also bridge the gap between the academia and industry. Most of our institutions are focused on certificates; we are working with relevant institutions to ensure that the gap is bridged. We have digital economy for digital Nigeria.”