Nigeria is known for its high population growth, but also records low job creation partly due to highly capital-intensive production techniques. Unemployment has remained one of the most stubborn problems facing macroeconomic policy makers in Nigeria since independence. This was also indicated in March 2014 where 16 people were killed in a stampede when 500,000 desperate job-seekers rushed to apply for under 5,000 vacancies at the Nigeria Immigration Service.
With the increase in Youth Unemployment Rate in Nigeria to 24 percent in the second quarter of 2016 from 21.50 percent in the first quarter of 2016 and possibly on the rise considering the economic situation of the country, there is no better time in Nigeria for all the concerned stakeholders to declare total war on unemployment and joblessness than now.
Information Technology Communication(ICT) can play a very significant role in winning this war.
ICT has become a major tool for gaining competitive advantage in the corporate world and as such has been integrated into the operations of most high performing organizations in every economy. ICTs are transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global. ICT positively influences employment, enhancing industrial growth and empowers workers to access new forms of work, in the new and more flexible ways.
The world is increasingly becoming technology-driven, ICT thus remains a key driver of any economy as it has the potential to address the rising unemployment trend across the globe.
The diffusion of ICTs is occurring across all economic sectors and job categories. In today’s job market, basic ICT skills are considered essential for people entering the workforce and for those trying to find a better job. ICT skills are not only required for jobs in the Information Technology (IT) sector, but also attracts maximum demand across the other sectors such as agriculture, construction education and service industries.
Europe has predicted that within the coming years, 90 percent of all jobs will require technology skills across all sectors. While the percentage is undoubtedly lower in the developing world, the trend towards greater numbers of jobs requiring ICT skills is undeniable. The increasing adoption of ICT in everyday life is creating opportunities for youth to find employment.
Apart from direct job creation, labour proficiency and productivity, ICT also contributes prominently to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) productivity. SMEs are very important in the economic development of any country. They are the building blocks of most economies and the fulcrum of industrialization in most developed nations.
SMEs also contribute immensely to improving the living standard of the people by providing employment to the masses.
Studies by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) show that about 96% of Nigerian businesses are SMEs. However, despite the fact that 96 per cent of Nigerian businesses are SMEs compared to 53 per cent in the United States and 65 per cent in Europe, the sector contributes only one per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, a development attributable to several constraints which are not limited to lack of funding, infrastructure and low level of productivity. Development and deployment of ICT can propel the SME to increase its present contribution of one percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
ICT is one factor that can boost the growth of SMEs. ICT affects the way businesses communicate with customers and other businesses; it affects the way payment is made and received; and it affects the way information is received, processed and stored. SMEs can gain business advantage by leveraging ICT to increase their productivity and profitability. Information and Communication Technology can enable small businesses play in the same league as the multi-nationals and big corporations.
Having known the impact ICT can make on our economy, it is imperative we take the bull by the horn. The first step in our development drive will be ICT skills development in Nigeria. ICT holds a lot of potentials for economic growth and Nigeria being the “giant” of Africa needs to wake up and take the initiative of empowering her youths for the challenges ahead; more investment has to be made in the ICT sector, subsidies have to be introduced to reduce the exorbitant cost of acquisition of ICT education in our country today; a state of emergency should be declared in the ICT sector of the economy and incentives should be regularly provided to encourage more youths in pursuing careers in the ICT industry. We should stop paying lip service to ICT development.
Contributing to ICT development and reduction of youth unemployment in Nigeria is what informed the decision of Alayeluwa (Ooni) Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, Ooni of Ife to focus this year edition of his annual Ife Youth Economic Summit(IYES) on ICT themed “ICT AS A FORMIDABLE TOOL FOR NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC REJUVENATION AND MASSIVE JOB CREATION”.
The event’s opening ceremony will take place on Thursday 22nd June 2017 at Oba Okunade Sijuade Memorial Hall, Enuwa, Ile-Ife, Osun State at 11:00am. Two hundreds youths will thereafter be trained for six (6) weeks in Computer Programming, Mobile App Development (Android Apps & iOS Apps), Desktop Application, Game Development, Website Design, Website Hosting, E-Commerce, Online Content Development, Search Engine Optmization, Blogging, Business Set-Up and Management. The training will be provided by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and SMEDAN Abuja.
The expected dignitaries at the event are Dr. Isa Ali Pantani, DG/CEO NITDA; Dr. Dikko Umaru, DG/CEO SMEDAN; Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communication; Senator Babajide Omoworare, Senator Representing Osun East Senatorial District; Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Chairman Senate Committee on Information Communication Technology; Senator Ajayi Robert Boroffice, Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology; Hon. Saheed Fijabi, Chairman House Committee on Telecommunication; Professor Adesola Aderounmu, National President Nigeria Computer Society; Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University; Mr. Chris Kohol, National President Young Entrepreneurs of Nigeria among others.