By Toochi (t.boi) Gabriel
The People, the culture
Enugu is beautiful, a place for photographers I would say. Like every other city in Nigeria it is beautiful in its own way, with the hills around it, the redness, and dry earth. The city is filled with people that…..well…..don’t smile much (not unique to Enugu) from 9:00am to 5:00pm when the heat starts to cool down.
A city that is welcoming. You will feel like losing your mind if you from a city like lagos and you come to Enugu that is so slow and claim. The sharp contrast is so strange at first but later you will get used to it.
The city is just who she is, a simple shy lady, quick to absorb, slow to reveal, but if you lore her well she will give you anything you ask for.
When you go on social media to lookup the city the first thing is, the city has no cinema, the other thing is Enugu people like to eat fish and drink (thanks harrysong) . But this narrative needs to change. A narrative that myself and some other well meaning people have decided to change. A story that we have decided to start hoping other actors will be part of and continue telling the story to the whole world.
The People, the numbers
Two polytechnics, four universities, three colleges of education, a federal government research center all within the most influential state in the south east. Half of the higher institutions are located in Enugu metropolis the other half are maximum two hours drive away from Enugu urban area.
This is a city with so far the best Road network in the south east. This is a city that is hot spot for youths in the south east. This is a city that 50% of its population are below 55 years.
A city that was once a hot bed of intellectuals and was a makers heaven. What a beautiful town indeed. This is what we looked at and said “Enugu has all it takes to get ready for the next economic revolution”
The People, the developers
GDG (Google developers group) ENUGU, Digital Dreams Developers meetup and Startup Enugu with support from Startup South have decided to harness the potential of the youths in the state in a very small way, we are hoping that we may “cause a ding on the universe” and that is giving 10000 youths in the state tech skills. We call it “Enugu Next Ten Thousand Developers”.
We want to have 10,000 developers in Enugu state in the next two years. Ranging from primary school kids to graduates, from Web developers to AI (artificial intelligence) coders, from beginners to expert. We want the state to be able to have 10,000 developers which is a decent proportion with the total number of youths in the state.
The economic value to the state is numerous given the fact that the city is surrounded by states known for their industrial strength like aba . Since we don’t have that industrial strength while don’t we have a state that can provide technical support and solutions to her neighbours.
Why can’t we have a state that produces the technology that drives industrial growth in the south east.
The People, the people
How do go about this…… well…….. We start slow. We rely on our community strength. We take our weakness and convert to be our strength. Our community is young, full of inexperienced people but have passion. We will reach out to experienced community developers and learn from them.
Today companies in the state offer their spaces for meetups, some people would never have thought this would happen. Peer to peer mentoring is increasing. Learning has increased.
Developers no longer feel left out because we try to cover every area of tech during our meetups ranging from Web to blockchain technology even AI.
Can we do this alone….. No we can’t. It is not solely GDG Enugu, D3M, Startup Enugu or Startup South that will do this. Any body – CSO’s, religious groups, education consultant – can and should be part of this movement. Resources will be shared, a support network will be open to get rid of the mentality of “I can do it alone”.
We have to understand it is our future we are dealing with. The fourth revolution is here and it is based on economy of skills.
If we all don’t tap into this now we all won’t break away from the poverty we are complaining about and in the future we will come on Enugu facebook/twitter and complain about all the good things government denied us.
What about the government….. Mmmm…. We will support the government in any way we can to drive technological growth in the state. If we are not equipped with skills that can make our society self sufficient then every government effort will be a waste. Self sufficiency is key to every society’s survival.
If government don’t look into technology as a means to self sufficiency then they should know there will be nothing left for them to govern over one day. In the future technology will be what will give the people strength against the government and technology will be the tool the government will use for good governance.
It is a win-win for us all. This is our own way of contributing to the society, for the common good, to have a state driven by technological innovation, a state that is willing to accept disruption has a means to social economical growth.
How will you handle ten thousand youths carrying laptops……? You must have asked that question. For every technical meetup we are having we will be having a business development meetup too so that we don’t have our youths on “the-young-shall-grow” first bus going to Lagos.
Technology drives economic growth but without people skilled in people management and business management the technology will only end in a lab or research journal.
Business development will be has much an important part of the program as having 10,000 developers in the state. Converting the codes to money is key and our goal is to have them stay in Enugu to grow the local economy.
The amount of money India makes from exporting software every year is almost the same with Enugu state budget, so….it won’t be a bad idea if Enugu is known in the next couple of years as the software export zone of the south east and Nigeria. Our goal is to have startups that are sustainable and profitable that will contribute to social economic growth of the state.
Must it be coding… NO, NO, NO, NO… all things STEM. We believe the discipline use in learning coding if apply to maths or engineering will have a ripple effect in every aspect of the society from agriculture to health.
With Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial intelligence (AI) leading the way into the next phase of our human lives STEM is a fundamental for our youths to learn, we can’t just be focused only on writing code.
With the campaign #enugunext10000developers and #whybuildinenugu we hope it will start a movement that will cause a “ding in the universe”. It is a big goal, some may call us dreamers and say “bigger cities could not do it how can you” “government will not support you” “you are in Nigeria it won’t fly” and all sort but if we ask what does it take to have 10,000 developers in a state within three years?
It simple, a policy from the government can make it possible or something as having private institutions from primary to university teach coding even if it is HTML as extra curricula activity.
We hope that two years from now, we will look at our society knowing that we have contributed to making it safer, healthier, more sustainable through empowerment given to youths that will shape the future.
*NB: This article was first published on Toochi (t.boi) Gabriel Medium.com page