By Prince Osuagwu
Over time, the criticism of the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, has been that as an agency of government empowered in 2007 to develop parameters for ICT growth in Nigeria, it has been lacking on the duty.
The agency’s Director General, Prof Cleopas Angaye, has always tried to fault these criticisms with the explanation that the agency was rolling out different development programmes tailored at not only boosting the Nigerian economy but also enhancing the use of ICT for positive changes in the society, without making so much noise about them.
Last week, however, the agency took its development projects to the youth, rolling out a youth development programme tagged ICT Youth Empowerment Scheme, YES. The ICT youth sensitization programme is aimed at sensitizing Nigerian youths on ICT career opportunities as well as developing ICT human capital and entrepreneurship skill among youths.
The programme has the objectives of exposing Nigerian youths to employment and economic opportunities in formal and informal jobs while catering for global and local demand; developing globally competitive youth population through human capital development in niche area of ICT; break barriers to human knowledge and socio-economic development; creating high potential for entrepreneurship; empowering best students during the training programme by providing them with tools to practice what they have been trained and supporting the growth of indigenous ICT industry to facilitate the production, and distribution of IT products, goods and services in all the sectors of the economy.
The training which was flagged off simultaneously at the Digital Bridge Institute in Abuja and Lagos penultimate Monday has over 200 participants shared equally between the two centers Abuja and Lagos.
NITDA targets to create about 3,700 jobs every year from the programme, even as it plans to replicate the training in the six geo-political zones of the country after this pilot phase.
At the end of the training programme, about 30 trainees who performed excellently would be empowered with seed money and some digital equipment to start their own entrepreneurship.
NITDA says the idea behind the training was to disabuse the mind of Nigerian youths that the only way to survive was to take up paid employment. According to the agency, in other climes, wealth is created by people who take their destiny in their own hands and those who move from conceptualisation to execution of their heart desires. The YES programme was to create that concept and as we’ll the platform to execute it.
Declaring the training open, Angaye, who was represented by his Executive Director, Dr Emeka Ezekwesili, said that the deployment of the best ICT infrastructures in any society does not necessarily or automatically translate to achievement of the desired result without adequately equipping the Nigerian youths who constitute the largest percentage of our population on the use of technologies.
For him, “it has therefore become highly imperative to fully integrate ICT in our educational system in order to empower them for the challenges of the global information’ society driven by technologies.
It is expected that knowledge management in the country will lead to an environment where knowledge creation is encouraged, nurtured, rewarded and exploited in order to achieve youth empowerment, value re-orientation, employment generation, wealth creation and improvement in the sub-region’s economic indicators”.