Nigeria, Microsoft collaborate on ‘digital transformation’, target 27,000 jobs
The Nigerian government and Microsoft have announced a number of projects aimed at accelerating the country’s transition to a digital economy.
After extensive consultations with the government, Microsoft announced on Monday that it has established three main pillars that will help Nigeria develop strong foundations for a digital economy: connectivity, skilling, and digital transformation.
“We believe in the future of Nigeria, and we are excited as a company to add to our investments,” says Brad Smith, Microsoft President. “Together, we have an enormous opportunity to put technology to work, create jobs, to foster the technology ecosystem across Nigeria, and to use technology to preserve the best of the past and take us into the future.”
Microsoft intends to roll out its Airband Initiative, which has been effective in introducing high-speed internet access to underserved areas around the world by using unused television white space broadcasting frequencies. The system is less expensive and quicker to install than fiber, and it has the added advantage of being able to travel long distances and across densely forested areas.
Six regions throughout the country have been identified for the construction of high-speed internet networks, according to the software company, following talks with the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and local partners.
Microsoft’s Airband team will collaborate with local partners to enhance broadband coverage in these areas, as well as assist with the design and deployment of hyper-scale cloud services.
Over the next three years, the company plans to upskill 5 million Nigerians, according to the company. To help achieve this aim, 1,700 trainers will provide a mix of online and in-person training to the country’s youth and government employees.
“Government will also be given the tools to digitally transform skilling, education, and employment methods to match job seekers with the right employers. In doing so, we hope to create over 27,000 new digital jobs in the next three years,” Mr Smith said.
“We are setting ourselves a big goal, to bring access to digital skills to five million people in Nigeria over the next three years,” continues Smith. “But this is not something we can do by ourselves. We will equip master trainers and, along with them, are committed to creating thousands of new jobs.”
“The final pillar, digital transformation, will initially be made up of two initiatives. The first will address corruption, a major global challenge with economic losses totalling $3.6 trillion each year. By collaborating with local partners, Microsoft will support the design and implementation of cloud-based tools to further enable government’s fight against corruption. Microsoft will be partnering with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to apply technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to help identify potential risk, highlight them, and reduce corruption.
“The second initiative will help protect Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, as Microsoft will look to deploy artificial intelligence tools to safeguard these treasures for future generations. Through a newly formed partnership with the National Institute of Cultural Orientation, Microsoft will support the organisation’s efforts to preserve and revive Nigeria’s three major indigenous languages: Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. “This is one of my favourite projects that we pursue around the world. It uses the most advanced technology of the 21st century to nurture and keep alive the culture that has been so important for humanity from the centuries past,” Mr Smith said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Twitter on Monday that the initiatives were the result of talks he had with Mr Smith in January.
“I am very pleased to see that within a very short time, we have moved from ideas to implementation,” he said.