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IT Should Be Springboard for Development -Akano

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Tim Akano, chief executive officer, New Horizons, a renowned information technology training institute. He has always exhibited passion for IT and when he left Nigerian Bottling Company, he went to establish the IT training institute,.
Through New Horizons, Akano has greatly impacted positively in the life of many young Nigerians especially students of different schools. He spoke to chike onwuegbuchi on issues surrounding quality and effective IT training in the country’s developmental effort

Developing Students Interest in IT
The objective of New Horizons’ education initiative is to transform Nigeria. We were the first company in Nigeria to integrate ICT Certification based programme into both secondary school academic curricula and the university academic curricula. We hope by this to produce well educated and ICT compliant graduates who will rebuild this country and create new wealth based on Knowledge economy as opposed to the present situation where Nigeria is 100% dependent on oil money. Five years ago we felt that a situation whereby up to 80% of Nigerian graduates is unemployed or underemployed portends danger for everybody in Nigeria. We were convinced that given good skills to students when they are in schools will go a long way in ameliorating the problem. It is not correct that we are only in Private Secondary schools but we also operate in some selected public schools like university of Ibadan.
 Driving down cost of IT training
First, when we talk of Cost we must bear in mind that cost is relative to value. The salary of well trained ICT professionals anywhere in the world also is higher than their counterparts in other discipline. So to command such huge salary people should be ready to pay corresponding price. But having said that New Horizons is conscious of the low purchasing power of Nigerians and that is why we are coming out with a tuition free scholarship in June to mark our 28th year anniversary. With this scholarship members of public who are brilliant and interested in acquiring ICT skills will be able to do so at minimal cost.
Partnership with Anambra state government
Gov Peter Obi has made history. He was the first Gov in Nigeria to have embraced the concept of integrated ICT empowerment for students in all the public schools in Anambra state. Integrated in the sense that he brought in professionals such as Microsoft and New Horizons, to assist in giving the students the necessary ICT skills, all other states in Nigeria should emulate the Anambra example so that they too can prepare a future for their youths. I will not be surprised if Anambra produces 1000 Phillip Emegwali in the next ten years.
Microsoft as preferred Partner
Well, New Horizons and Microsoft are like Siamese twins. New Horizons is the largest Microsoft technical partner in the world. We have an agreement of going to the market jointly. Having said that, we equally have strong partnership with Cisco, Oracle, EC-Council, CBP, Prometric, VUE, CIW, SAP among others. Don’t forget that New Horizons as the number one training organization in the world we cannot afford not to have other products in our portfolio.
Collaboration with E-Council on e-business training
 EC-Council is the most prestigious organization in the world when it comes to IT Security and E-Business. They have unbeatable courses like CRM, supply chain Management, Knowledge Management etc. New Horizons is the major distributor of EC-Council in Nigeria. We have successfully integrated EC-Council courses in Babcock University and Covenant and some other universities in Nigeria. We are also teaching students in secondary schools Security 5 under EC-Council ACADEMY. In fact, I am happy to congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan and all the citizens of this country that Nigeria has produced the youngest SECURITY 5 professionals in the world in persons of Davision and Seun who are both 12 years of age.
 Outdated curriculum of IT courses in Universities
Yes I agree with you that in most cases our curriculum is 30 years behind the rest of developed world. We are still operating the same curriculum that was handed over to us by the colonial Masters in most cases. Meanwhile the rest of the world has moved forward. The way forward for the universities in Nigeria is to produce new curriculum that will meet the need of the nation. They should bear in mind that they are like a factory and if a factory continues to produce products that the market does not need a time will come when they will close down. New Horizons has started the campaign to review the curriculum. And we are winning. Just last week Federal government came up with the directive that all secondary schools should integrate ICT training into their curriculum. We believe with time we will get there.
IT training as a business venture
Frankly speaking my experiment in ICT empowerment for Nigerians or what you call training was (and is still not) a business per se for me. I went into ICT because I see it as the most veritable way of changing the society the same way late Chief Gani Fawehinmi used the instrumentality of Law to change the society. For me the most powerful too available today to create jobs, create wealth and eliminate poverty, waste and underdevelopment of any kind is ICT. I came away convinced that if Nigeria is going to achieve its Vision 20-2020 we have no viable alternative outside of ICT. This was my motivation in going into ICT. Having said that let me quickly add that the value of ICT as a business venture is enormous to the growth of the economy. If you look at the economy of the Western nations you will see that ICT is the greatest employer of direct and indirect labour. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Dell are all having thousands of staff on their payroll. More importantly, there is no nation that has developed in the last 50 to 100 years that has not passed through what I call the ICT-Pathways. If you talk about China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan among others, they all used ICT as springboard for national development. Even if you look at the Nigeria GDP growth in the last ten years it was made possible by the growth in the telecoms sector. Therefore ICT whether as an instrument of social change or business venture its significance cannot be overemphasized,
Proliferation of none certified IT training institutes
In any profession you will always have quacks. As we have fake ICT professionals so we have fake journalists, soldiers, teachers and the rest of them. It is therefore incumbent on the person that needs ICT services to probe into the antecedents of organizations he or she wants to have business relationship with. As at today we have hundreds of what I call boutique or ”under the bridge” ICT training companies. These types of companies don’t have alliance with other global ICT companies. For instance there is nothing local in ICT. ICT is one globally. Genuine companies have to have alliances with other ICT companies worldwide for collaborations purposes. So these types of companies operating under the bridge do not have such. Members of public should be conscious of this. One of the strengths of New Horizons is that we have partnership with all other ICT companies worldwide – the likes of Microsoft, EC-Council, Cisco, Oracle, CBP, Prometric, etc. The courseware we use are original and we pay our dues on intellectual properties and also we pay tax to the Nigerian government and pay annual dues to Computer Professional Association of Nigeria.. All these fake companies do not respect intellectual properties and the likes.
Mission in Universities
New Horizons pioneered the integration of ICT-Certification based training into the education curricula of Nigeria both in secondary schools and the universities. We saw the gap in the Nigerian education curricula before the government even admitted there was a gap. New Horizons carried out an in depth research into the cause of massive unemployment in Nigeria and we discovered that there was a big gap between what the universities are producing and what the industry wanted. Therefore there is need for the producers (the universities) to align its products with the requirement of the users (the industry). As at today we have partnership with over 15 universities in Nigeria and hundreds of schools. For any academic institution that wants quality and globally recognized ICT education we recommend that they visit www.newhorizonsnigeria.com for details on how to go about this.
Challenges in delivery quality IT training
Well, because of the way new horizons content is packaged there is no difficulty whatsoever in getting ICT knowledge transferred to any person regardless of the person’s background. The New Horizons content is easy to read and understand.

 


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AfDB Appoints Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho as Director of Statistics Department

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African Development Bank has appointed Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, an economist and statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department, effective June 16, 2024.

Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho

Dr Omotosho, a Nigerian national, has more than 21 years experience in developing data strategies to align with the strategic objectives of organisations. He also brings expertise in data compilation, data analytics, macroeconomic research, and policy analysis.

Omotosho previously served as Director of Research and Statistics at the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) in Sierra Leone, where he was seconded from the Central Bank of Nigeria. At WAMA, he provided advice on monetary and economic integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Prior to that he held various positions within the Statistics and Research Departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

As an Assistant Director in the Statistics Department, he led the data analytics team and managed the Central Bank’s strategic initiatives on big data and data analytics. He oversaw projects aimed at enhancing data analytics capabilities for policymaking, automating surveys and statistical systems, improving data sharing infrastructure and developing social media listening tools. His leadership fostered a culture of data analytics within the Central Bank, driving innovation and efficiency in operational and policy processes.

Dr Omotosho holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom (2021); a master’s degree in Applied Statistics and Datamining from the University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (2011); a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Benin, Nigeria (2008); and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria (2000).

He has contributed extensively to academic literature, with publications in reputable journals, including the Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, Journal of International Money & Finance, Macroeconomic & Finance in Emerging Market Economies, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Journal of Applied Statistics. His research covers big data, econometrics, monetary and fiscal policy interactions, business cycle drivers, and the macroeconomic implications of resource shocks for small open, emerging economies.

Omotosho is a member of the Nigerian Statistical Association, the International Association for Official Statistics, and the Royal Statistical Society.

Commenting on his appointment, he said, “I am grateful to President Adesina for this appointment, and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the African Development Bank Group, an institution that plays such a pivotal role in the economic and social development of our beloved continent, Africa. I am fully committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position while collaborating effectively with the Bank’s senior leadership team, colleagues, and other strategic partners.”

Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, commented: “I am pleased to appoint Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, a respected statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department. Dr Omotosho brings to this role an impressive track record in statistics, economics, and data analytics. He will support the Bank in building a robust data ecosystem to achieve our strategic objectives and sustain our long-term development goals.”


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ATII Awards Scholarship to Students

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A knowledge transfer and technology innovation hub, African Technology and Innovation Institutes (ATII) has awarded scholarships to ten pupils from Bridge International Academy, Lagos.

Through its Junior Scholars Program in partnership with Lumina Educational and Empowerment Foundation (Lumina), the scholarship will meet the educational needs of the benefitting pupils through their primary education, which is extendable to their university education.

The Junior Scholars Program is an offshoot of  ATII’s  Innovation, Leaders, Fellowship and Scholars Program that aims to empower and cater to the welfare of students aged 3-12 years from underprivileged and low-income communities by partnering with other organisations to provide scholarships for these rough diamonds.

In addition to the scholarship, ATII also provides STEM-based back-to-school kits and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) materials to spark their desire for education and to contribute to their communities in STEM-related fields.

In her congratulatory message, the Founder of ATII,  Prof. Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua represented by Mr Sunday Awolowo, ATII’s Programs Manager, praised the students for their “outstanding academic excellence” and their “resolve to continue to improve in their academic pursuits, especially in the STEM fields.”

“We hope that the scholarships will continue to encourage you to do great work to pursue STEM. We hope one day in the future you all will be inspired to be an Engineer, a technologist, a mathematician or scientist,” Prof. Ekeng-Itua said.

The ATII Junior Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support students who are interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

Mrs Ezinne Tochie-Asogwa, Manager of Academics at Bridge International Academy, expressed her appreciation to ATII for the generous gesture.

“On behalf of the management and staff of Bridge International Academy, we appreciate the kind gesture of ATII.

ATII is passionate about the next generation of leaders and individuals who will change the world, pursuing its mission to promote African and Indigenous Technologies, while supporting human capital development in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The ATII scholarships will provide financial assistance to the students as they continue their education in STEM fields. The program will also provide mentorship and support from ATII professionals.

 


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CBN, FintechNGR Chart the Way Forward to Enhance Nigeria’s Fintech Ecosystem

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In light of recent developments aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s fintech sector, Ade Bajomo, President of FintechNGR, led a team from the Association’s Governing Council in an engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to chart the way forward.

Receiving the team at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, Philip Ikeazor, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, commended FintechNGR’s active advocacy efforts that have significantly improved the fintech ecosystem.

The Central Bank emphasized the need for the Association to work closely with stakeholders to operate within regulatory provisions, facilitate compliance, and establish robust risk management frameworks and governance structures.

Mr. Ikeazor stated, “The Central Bank understands the critical roles of fintechs in driving financial inclusion to the last mile. Our efforts are geared towards helping fintechs become more attractive to investors and achieve greater success.”

During the meeting, Ade Bajomo noted that while stakeholders strive to comply with regulatory requirements, they sometimes face challenges beyond their control.

“The common understanding within our ecosystem is that compliance makes the environment safer for all to innovate, scale, and collaborate. FintechNGR will ensure the co-creation of a support structure with the CBN to enhance compliance.”

Some of the initiatives the regulators plan to pursue with the ecosystem include making the 2024 Nigeria Fintech Week more impactful, enriching the activities of the Regulators Forum, organizing fintech learning series for various stakeholders, and exploring self-regulation status for FintechNGR to foster closer relationships with regulators.

FintechNGR remains committed to working with all regulators to better position the ecosystem to be more inclusive and impactful.

 


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