BY Wasilat Azeez
The federal government has entered into a partnership with Microsoft, an American multinational technology company, to accelerate digital transformation in Nigeria.
In a joint statement released by the federal government and Microsoft on Monday, the initiative is aimed at intensifying Nigeria’s move to become a more digital economy.
After extensive consultations with the government, Microsoft said it identified three key pillars that will help to build strong foundations for a digital economy in Nigeria: connectivity, skilling and digital transformation.
Six regions in the country have been earmarked for the development of high-speed internet infrastructure, following discussions with the federal ministry of communication and digital economy and local partners.
Microsoft’s said its Airband team will work closely with local partners to improve broadband connectivity in these communities while also assisting with the design and implementation of hyper-scale cloud services.
Microsoft has also committed to upskilling five million people in Nigeria over the next three years. To help reach this goal, 1,700 trainers will provide blended online and in-person training courses to the country’s youth as well as government workers.
“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,” Microsoft said.
The final pillar, digital transformation, will initially be made up of two initiatives.
Microsoft, in collaboration with local partners, will support the design and implementation of cloud-based tools to further enable government’s fight against corruption.
Microsoft will partner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to apply technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to help identify potential risk, highlight them, and reduce corruption.
“The second initiative will help protect Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, as Microsoft will look to deploy artificial intelligence tools to safeguard these treasures for future generations,” the statement added.
“Through a newly formed partnership with the National Institute of Cultural Orientation, Microsoft will support the organisation’s efforts to preserve and revive Nigeria’s three major indigenous languages: Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo.”
Commenting on the development, Brad Smith, Microsoft president, 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.”
On his part, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said: “With over 80 million registered internet users, there is no question that Nigerians have fully embraced technology, the internet, and their various uses. But there’s still so much to be achieved.”
“We want to bridge gaps, strengthen the connections and ensure that no one is left behind. Partnerships like these are crucial to achieving these objectives.”