Nigeria to raise inter-ministerial task team on digital economy

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja |   05 March 2020   |   3:18 am  

Nigeria is to set up an inter-ministerial task team comprising the ministries of Labour and Employment, Communication and Digital Economy, Youths and Sports, Women Affairs, and other relevant agencies to key into the emerging digital economy to maximise the abundant opportunities available to young people.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed this in Abuja when he was joined by the ministers of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, and his counterpart at Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare, to receive a high-level mission from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The ILO and ITU partners are in Nigeria to seek partnership for the creation of decent jobs and entrepreneurship through the global framework for Digital Skills facilitation for Youths in Africa.

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Ngige, who said inter-ministerial and agency synergy had become imperative in line with recommendations of the National
Economic Advisory Council to the President, added that time was gone when ministries and even parastatals within ministries work in silos, and leave a huge gap in achieving set goals in youth employment.

“You see the ministries of Sports, Digital Economy, Technology, and even parastatals within some ministries duplicating efforts on different and at times contrasting programmes on skills and empowerment. We are now harmonising everything so as to work in synergy to achieve the desired goal,” he stated.

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He commended the Joint ILO-ITU partnership programme, which is supported by the Africa Union, and African Development Bank, emphasizing the need for the exercise to critically address the peculiar needs of countries against a one-size-fits-all module that may end up producing quick fixes and no sustainable successes.  

The minister also implored the team to target the abundant, but misplaced digital literacy and skills of some Nigerian youths and turn them into legally productive digital ventures, as a sure way to arrest the surging incidence of cyber crimes.

On his part, Pantami expressed the preparedness of Nigeria to pull through from the traditional to the digital economy, utilising the partnership of the private sector to create jobs and lift 100 million Nigerians from poverty in 10 years, in line with the vision of the President.  

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He gave an overview of the strategic pillars of Nigeria’s digital economic vision as well as its goals, saying the focus was to leverage the emerging digital capacities to churn out employers of labour through appropriate alignment of certificates with skills.

On his part, Dare commended the initiative but however raised observations on its sustainability.

He said Nigeria has had such opportunities in the past but young people after acquiring such skills returned to the job market, and therefore, called for stronger commitment to ensure youths are not only empowered but made investors.
Earlier, ILO Regional Director for Africa, Cynthia Olajuwo, who led the team said: “Africa’s growing youth population and the continent’s transition to digital economy represents a huge opportunity to bolster African economies while addressing important levels of unemployment and working poverty among young people.”

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She said the programme, Boosting Decent Jobs and Enhancing Digital Skills For Youths in Africa’s Digital Economy, is a contribution to the 2020 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and part of the Call for Action adopted by the 2012 International Labour Conference.

She listed the aims of the programme to include job creation and entrepreneurship opportunities on the demand side labour; investment in youth digital skills as it relates to supply as well as engendering private and public employment services for the digital era, and disseminating knowledge and best practice across the region to enable replicability and economies of scale.

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The ITU African Regional Director, Andrew Rugege, said Africa’s 335 million youth population can no longer wait to benefit from the over $300billion available in the digital economy.

Rugege said Africa is ready to take up the challenge to get most of her young people key into and benefit from the enormous gains in the digital economy. 

He assured of ITU’s support for the African digital economy through adequate radio resources backbone, adding that a standardisation bureau to ensure that the digital economy in Africa conforms to international standards will be established.

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