Google for Africa: FG plans massive economic rehabilitation with technology

..invests over N720m in tech startups
By Prince Osuagwu &Juliet Umeh
The federal government Thursday revealed that it plans to carry out a massive economic overhaul through supports and investments in technology developments across the country.

President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Nigeria Google country director, Juliet Ehimuan; VP, Project Management, Anjali Joshi and some beneficiaries of Google programs.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, made the revelation at the 2018 edition of Google for Africa event held in Victoria Island Lagos. Osinbajo said the government has made massive investments in technology ecosystem as well as giving supports worth over $2million, approximately (N720 million) to about 29 startups in Nigeria to change the trajectory of Nigerian story and provide knowledge and information to the teeming youths.

Osinbajo who was special guest of honour at the event, used the opportunity to express the countrys gratitude to Google for partnering with a local technology company, 21st Century technology to launch the Google Station platform in Nigeria.

The platform which was launched in Nigeria, at the event, is Googles public wi-fi service which allows partners to roll out free hotspots in public places.

He said Nigeria cannot provide all the services the country and its citizenry need and called on more corporate organizations both locally and internationally to join Google in assisting to keep Nigeria as the technology hub of Africa and all emerging markets of the world.

According to Osinbajo, “We in Nigeria cannot train nearly 200 million young people by 2045 in classrooms alone; it’s impossible. We must use the internet and even mobile telephony. We must connect our young people to knowledge and information as is done all over the world. For instance, when we started the graduate employment programme that we have, tagged the Mpower programme, we were trying to access 200,000 people in the first phase and 300,000 in the next phase; ofcourse we couldn’t congregate that mass anywhere at any location in Nigeria without chaos. We had to resort to the internet. We had to develop a platform which enabled us to conduct tests, get all their details, pay them and gave them tablets which they are working with, today. All of these would have not been possible without the internet.

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“Without connectivity, development trajectory of our nation and our continent is truncated. Today it is also becoming increasingly clear that the availability of food and health space of huge number of our people will depend on how democratized technology becomes. That is to say, we simply cannot provide food or drugs in Nigeria or Africa, without innovations in technology and agriculture.

“Every step in making technology hub available is a quantum leap in the African development story and a major contribution to global stability and growth. This is why the launch of Google Station event here in Lagos, Nigeria is an enormously significant development. It means that in collaboration with the indigenous technology company, 21st century Technology which will provide access, more Nigerians will connect into the internet.

“More exciting for us is that the Google station is first launched in the market places. It is absolutely important because that is where the largest number of our people gathers”.

He noted that millions of Nigerians have shared stories of how internet transformed their lives in positive ways, and so the government was trying its best to see that more people join in these testimonies.

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“With Senior Special Assistant to the president on SDGs we have launched digital skills training programme with target to train 400, 000 Nigerians in basic digital skills, working with google and other local training institutions we have surpassed the target, training more than one million Nigerians in different basic digital skills in the last 24 months.

“We scale up our support to the private sector in the technology space and recently we created technology and industry advisory group. The group brings together young private companies and relevant government agencies like NNPC and Bank of Industry to stimulate growth in technonolgy and creative industries of our economy . The federal government has given out $2m dollar to 29 start ups across the country. Some of these initiatives have helped the country rise in world banks ease of doing business index” he claimed.

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