The Federal Government appears to have discarded its plan to create thousands of jobs through the establishment of technology hubs.
While representing President Muhammadu Buhari at an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) forum in Abuja mid-2016, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had unveiled the plan for two ‘super hubs’ in Lagos and Abuja, and six others across the country by the end of 2017. Regrettably, the initiative, 19 months after it was announced, exists only on paper.
“Each hub will be designed to produce relevant innovative technology solutions to a wide range of business, commercial and Government problems. For example, alternative energy solutions, creative technology, public services delivery in health, education and Government processes, import substitution, among others,” said Osinbajo.
The Vice President even disclosed that many major technology companies were partnering the Federal Government for the provision of infrastructure and opportunities at the hubs.
“We intend to create a reservoir of human capacity in technology that can be exported internationally. Nigeria could lead India as a market for technology and innovation talent,” he added.
When The Guardian contacted the Senior Special Adviser to the President on ICT, Lanre Osibona, on the matter, he asked for some time to gather information. Three weeks later, he has not got back to the reporter. He did not pick his calls either or reply to text messages. Laolu Akande, the spokesman for the Vice President, also promised a response. He had not done so as at press time.
An ICT or technology hub is a space where technologists gather to bounce ideas, network, programme and design, and bring their ideas to fruition for economic benefits.
A hub can establish a minimum of 10 start-ups and a maximum of 20 in about five teams each. This means that 20 start-ups multiplied by five teams each would create about 100 jobs. Multiplying 100 by the eight hubs planned by the Federal Government would yield 800 jobs.
Checks on the Nigeria ICT Roadmap showed that the Ministry of Communications targeted the creation of over two Million jobs by 2020 through the establishment of the hubs.
The Federal Government, however, seems unwilling to pay adequate attention to the potential of technology for the economy, triggering concern among industry watchers.
They expressed dismay that the nonchalant posture is coming at a time the country’s ICT sector is attracting the attention of the world’s biggest technology giants like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook