Microsoft Partners With Nigeria Government To Boost Digital Economy

  • would develop technologies to assist EFCC in fighting corruption
  • project to help preserve Nigeria three major languages – Igbos, Yoruba and Hausa.

Microsoft has partnered with the Nigerian government in a move to turn the country into a more digital economy, the company announced on Monday.

The initiative would be executed in three phases – connectivity, skilling and digital transformation – which is expected to bring solid foundations for a digital economy in Nigeria.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said, “We believe in the future of Nigeria, and we are excited as a company to add to our investments,” 

 “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.”

Nigeria Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy would work with Microsft to target six regions in the country for the development of high-speed internet infrastructure.

The plan is to use Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which taps into the unused broadcasting frequencies of television white spaces, to bring high-speed internet connection to underserved communities.

The tech giant says, “the technology is cheaper and faster to deploy than fibre and has the added benefit of being able to travel long distances and through forested terrain.”

The second phase of the project is to upskilling five million people in Nigeria over the next three years.

1700 Trainers will provide blended online and in-person training courses to Nigerian youths and government workers.

The tech giant would work with local partners to ensure the targeted communities are reached while assisting with hyper-scale cloud service design and implementation.

“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,” the company’s President 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.”

In a statement by the Vice President of Nigeria, Profession Yemi Osinbajo said the development is as a result of the discussion he had with Brad Smith in early January of 2021.

“I am very pleased to see that with a very short time we have moved from ideas to implementation. Our government is committed to leveraging information and technology,” he said.

The third phase would be further divided into two sub-phases. Microsoft said one of his plans is to help the government address corruption, a global challenge with economic losses totally $3.6 trillion yearly.

“By collaborating with local partners, Microsoft will support the design and implementation of cloud-based tools to further enable the government’s fight against corruption. “

This means working with the country anti-corruption unit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to flout technologies, for example, artificial intelligence (AI) and machines to analyze potential risk, highlight them and reduce corruption.

The second part of the phrase three is focused on Nigeria cultural heritage, the major indigenous languages: Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

Microsoft said it would partner with the National Institution of Cultural Orientation to safeguard Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage for future generations.

“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,” concludes Smith.

A joint working committee will guide these investments and will provide updates on the programmes announced and new programmes that may follow.

According to research, internet penetration in Nigeria is around 50%. Meanwhile, the global pandemic has increased the pace of digitalization.

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