Over 3m MSMEs To Benefit In FG/ALAT Skillnovation Programme ...VP Shettima declares no going back on creating inclusive economy
By Adetokunbo FAKEYE
The Federal Government and ALAT have launched Skillnovation Programme in a bid to support information technology revolution that would, in turn, extend the reach of economic and social interactions as well as enhance productivity growth in Nigeria.
The initiative, according to Stanley Nkwocha, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Communications
(Office of the Vice President), will provide over three million Nigerians with essential digital skills required to succeed in the global economy.
Speaking during the launch of the programme at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, September 29, 2023, the Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shettima, described the Skillnovation as a "transformative initiative" that "ushers in a new era of digital empowerment for" Nigerians.
He said, "We are compelled to tread this path by the direction in which the world has headed, a world of disruptive technologies redefined by the fourth Industrial Revolution.
"This initiative is a response to the evolution of the modern business environment, an acknowledgment that digital skills have become the cornerstone of economic ease and expansion".
The Vice President, Nkwocha said, hinted that the gathering is one of the many to come and an occasion to reassure the nation that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fully committed to supporting small businesses across Nigeria.
The Skillnovation Programme will establish 15 state-of-the-art ICT centres, strategically placed across Nigeria, to provide individuals and businesses alike with access to cutting-edge digital training, resources, and support.
The first phase of the programme will focus on the states of Katsina, Anambra, Borno, Lagos, Oyo, and Kano, while the second phase will include Delta, Kaduna, Ogun, Bauchi, Kwara, and Ekiti States.
Giving an insight into how the country would benefit from the programme, Vice President said, "Nigeria, with its expanding MSME sector of close to 40 million, has the potential to lead business innovation beyond Africa. The Skillnovation Programme, therefore, aims to unlock this immense potential. The initiative is designed to provide the necessary tools and skills for our MSMEs to thrive and compete on the global stage.
"As you have witnessed, ladies and gentlemen, the Skillnovation Programme is not a mere promise; it is a resounding commitment to the Nigerian people," the Vice President added. "It’s in pursuit of this administration’s resolve to empower our youth and MSMEs and to create a more inclusive and prosperous Nigeria. Today, we are translating that commitment into action, and we intend to be your allies in your race to take over the world through your enhanced skills".
VP Shetimma also assured that nobody will be left out of the Skillnovation Programme, regardless of age, gender, or disability.
"There will be no disadvantaged demographic in accessing this opportunity. Our youth, women, and persons with disabilities have found friends and allies and will be favored in our proposed single-digit loan schemes for our valued MSMEs, for which talks are already ongoing with the Bank of Industry and other critical stakeholders and partners", he stated.
The Skillnovation Programme is a significant step towards achieving the Federal Government's vision of a digitally empowered and economically prosperous Nigeria. By providing MSMEs with the essential digital skills and support they need to succeed, the programme will help to create jobs, boost economic growth, and improve the lives of millions of Nigerians.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and MSMEs, Mr Temitola Adekunle-Johnson, emphasised the significance of partnership, noting that government alone cannot address the challenges confronting Nigerians.
On his part, Managing Director of Wema Bank, Mr Moruf Oseni, commended the passion of the President and Vice President for empowering young Nigerians, even as he announced the establishment of skills training centres across 17 states, beginning with Lagos and Borno.
He said the programme will directly impact 2 million youths and 1 million small businesses across the benefitting States.
The MD expressed optimism that the scheme will be impactful, particularly empowering young Nigerians and preparing them for the challenges of the future.
In his goodwill message, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Bosun Tijjani, said President Tinubu administration's will leverage the enthusiasm of youths in the technology space to launch Nigeria as a global power in sector.
He called on other private sectors to collaborate more with government to actualize the objectives of job creation.
On his part Governor Ahmad Aliyu of Sokoto State pledged the state government's support for the success of the programme.
Also present at the event were the Ministers of Agriculture, Sen. Abubakar Kyari; Labour and Employment, Hon. Simon Lalong; Deputy Governors of Borno, Umar Kadafur; Kaduna, Hadiza Balarabe; Anambra, Onyeka Ibezim; Jigawa, Aminu Usman, and Heads of government agencies.
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