Nigeria has successfully transitioned to a new government on May 29th, 2023, and the new president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his manifesto and also in his inaugural speech, has made a pledge to create one million digital jobs in the first two (2) years of his administration. While this is a lofty and commendable goal, we are yet to get the details on how the government hopes to achieve this.
However, I would hope President Tinubu and his team don’t go in the direction of giving handouts like the previous administration did with some of its programs. Such approaches create meagre and temporary positive results at best, while still being riddled with unaccountability.
The best approach to me will be to focus on more sustainable strategies through institutionalising widespread e-governance, expanding broadband access and creating effective partnerships with pre-existing key players in the digital skills acquisition space.
E-governance can extend into as many facets of government activities as possible including finance, payments (we are doing relatively well here), supply chains, healthcare, procurement and so on.
Aside from the more obvious information technology systems, more modern technology such as blockchain alone can revolutionise all these sectors of the government.
The true intersection of that with the government’s goal is the spin-off of jobs that will be created because with more digital systems, more digital professionals are required for continuous developments, upgrades and maintenance.
For many developing countries, broadband access is a major game changer. With less than 30% of Nigerians having access to stable internet connectivity (Alliance for Affordable Internet — A4AI), expanding our broadband access is a non-negotiable boost to connectivity across the country to enable the growth of digital services and industries that will go on to create digital employment in various sectors of the economy and geographic areas of the country. Broadband access also provides new entrants into the digital space the access to information and learning for rapid skill development, so they can become employable by the digital industry.
Lastly, tech skills are much easier to learn at a professional level when one learns from industry professionals and mentors. For a government that intends to create a million digital jobs, skill acquisition must be prioritized.
However, digital skill acquisition is not a core competence for the government or any of its agencies. The government will do better to partner with existing start-ups and training organizations that possess the core expertise as well as trendy tools and methodologies for teaching these digital skills.
Such a partnership can be fashioned in various ways. The government can decide to subsidize training for specific strategic skills or for certain demography (e.g. fresh secondary school leavers) in society. It can also decide to have the training partners offer training for free and get refunded for their services rendered.
I firmly believe sustenance should be a keyword in pursuing this remarkable goal. Using these approaches will naturally create and sustain enough digital jobs to hit the mark set by the administration. Going this way is much better than using methods that only create short-term gains without established systems for long-term benefits.
Seweje is the chief solutions architect at Techie Planet LTD.