Buhari: Nigeria ready to join the global digital ecosystem

According to reports originating from the official Twitter account of Bashir Ahmad (Personal Assistant on Digital Media and New Media), President Muhammadu Buhari met Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President, at the State House. It could have been seen as an extension of today’s official launching of ADC Building and Office in Lagos. Further, the visit to the State House recognizes the company’s efforts in developing the tech economy in Africa and thereby placing the continent on the path to industrialization. Earlier in Lagos, Microsoft announced the opening of its world-class Africa Development Centre in Lagos, after three years of successful operations and hosting at Microsoft’s Lagos hub. It was described as a move to expand the physical presence in Nigeria and to recruit top engineers talent.

We will continue to work towards developing Microsoft products in Nigeria and West Africa by training, equipping, and hiring engineers to aid in the development of Microsoft products. These products are currently used by over 1,000,000 devices. This will empower millions of people and organisations around the world. ADC West Africa Managing Director, Gafar Lawal

The State House meeting was also witness to the presence of Dr. Isa Pantami (Minister of Communication and Digital Economy), who was also present at In Lagos’s launching. The President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, President Buhari presented a handbook to President Buhari which represented a roadmap of the ADC office’s intended operations and benefits to the economy. “I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million,’’ President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina. “I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives,’’ he added. Buhari informed the Microsoft team that Nigeria is well-positioned to play a key role in the global tech ecosystem. He also suggested that the country seeks the right partnerships to maximize its potential. He claimed that his government had demonstrated a great deal of commitment to providing an environment conducive for investors. The huge jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking was evidence of these efforts paying off. “Our emphasis on the development of our Digital Economy has also positioned the sector as a prominent factor in the Nigerian economy. Information and Communications Technology was the fastest growing sector in Nigeria’s economy in 2020. This sector was crucial in helping the country recover from the severe recession that was caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. “We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies.’’ Buhari indicated that, aside from the partnership for skills building, he is open to other partnerships that support the innovation ecosystem and digital infrastructure in relation to emerging technologies. “I believe that this meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how the Nigerian government can support the growth of your business here and how Microsoft can contribute to the growth of our economy through the active support of our policies and programmes,’’ he added. Pantami stated that he was Buhari’s representative at the commissioning ceremony of the African Development Centre. He also said that Microsoft had more than 200 Nigerians working in the country and Seattle.

He pointed out that the tech company has also trained 320,000 Nigerians in digital skills. On his part, Brad Smith said the company will keep creating jobs to help build technology that will change the world, noting that the “multi-tasking approach’’ also stretches to digital infrastructure. “We pledge to train five million people in Nigeria in the future,’’ Smith said, noting “60,000 people had already enrolled for courses while 300,000 had completed various courses.’’ In May 2021, the Buhari administration announced a partnership with the tech giant to accelerate Nigeria’s advance towards a more digital economy in line with the Economic Sustainability Plan. A dual announcement from the Federal Government of Nigeria and Microsoft Corporation announced that no less than 5 million Nigerians would be able to benefit from a digital-upskilling program. Locations in 6 geopolitical areas in Nigeria will also have active internet connectivity and cloud services as a result of this digital transformation plan. After discussions between the parties, led by Vice President Yemi Obajo (SAN) and Microsoft President Brad Smith, the partnership was anchored in connectivity, skilling, and digital transformation.

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