Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has urged the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to consider siting its South East Zonal Office in Enugu, in view of the state’s background as the historic capital of the zone and its inherent potentials as an educational and scientific centre.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of a 5-day training programme for 50 Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) in Information Technology (IT) and Entrepreneurship, Gov. Ugwuanyi, who spoke through his Commissioner for Science and Technology, Hon. Obi Kama, stressed that the request was also in line with the state government’s passion and commitment to IT, innovation and youth empowerment.
The governor disclosed that it was in line with this vision that his administration recently established the Enugu Technology Hub and Youth Innovation Centres in Enugu Urban and Obollo Afor, Udenu Local Government Area, stressing that the unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to more digitally enabled lifestyles and system of working globally.
The entrepreneurial training, which is taking place at the Enugu State newly established Tech Hub and Youth Innovation Centre in Enugu, is a partnership programme between Enugu State Government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Enugu State tapped into the training which is an initiative of Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy led the Minister, by Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) and being implemented by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to empower PLWDs through IT entrepreneurship, policies and solutions to enable them live productively with good sense of inclusion in the IT ecosystem, their immediate society and the country.
Speaking further, the governor disclosed that the state government is taking a proactive step to create programmes for Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) skills development to reduce the risk of massive labour substitution and endemic unemployment, especially in this COVID-19 era, by enabling the youth to leverage on the new entrepreneurial and economic opportunities associated with digital economy.
He added that “Enugu State is also home to 7 innovation hubs and 16 Tertiary Institutions with over 20 campuses”, revealing: “I will also proudly point out that the 1st Computer System in Nigeria was assembled in Enugu at ASUTECH now Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUTH)”.
Gov. Ugwuanyi maintained that “the state government is willing to partner NITDA by making available the entire required infrastructure to reactivate the South-East Zonal Office at Enugu”, requesting: “kindly indicate your requirements as soon as possible to Enugu State Government”.
The governor also used the occasion to congratulate the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy for getting Nigeria out of recession through expansive growth in the ICT sector.
Gov. Ugwuanyi who pointed out that the training programme was designed to afford Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) the opportunity to be self-reliant and make meaningful contributions to the society by building on their Digital Literacy Skills, among others, charged the participants to leverage on the opportunity the training presents to prepare themselves for active engagements in digital economy.
On his part, the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Hon. Kama, described the training as timely, saying: “The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development elicits that gaps and risks implicit in the digital economy are more exposed by the COVID-19 shock particularly in the African countries”.
His words: “The current ‘New Normal’ situation therefore requires the need to empower PLWDs through investments in ICT infrastructure, policies and solutions that will accelerate their efforts in tapping into the new possibilities unlocked by digitalization.
“I appreciate the inclusive nature of this training in bridging the Digital divide among PLWDs in the South-east, especially Enugu State.
“I’m convinced that this training will mitigate the existing digital divide and foster the digital inclusion of Persons Living With Disabilities within an educational context as well as within the society as a whole”, he said.
In his remarks, the Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT, Hon. Emeka Ani, told the participants that society has shifted from an economy based on commodities and manual labour to an economy based on knowledge and highly qualified human capital.
“Therefore, employees need to be prepared to shift jobs and to be flexible in acquiring skills. Information and communication technology (ICT) is pervasive in the workplace and there is a high demand for ICT-proficient employees with technical know-how, information, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. That is why this training is very important to our youths”, he said.
NITDA Director General was represented by Dr. Agu Collins Agu, who expressed delight at Gov. Ugwuanyi administration’s commitment to the development of IT and youth empowerment programmes in the state.