Kayode Shobajo, Chief Technopreneur/CEO, HiiT, synonymous with youth IT empowerment. He has undying passion for quality ICT education. Shobajo is a consummate technoprenuer, with panache and zeal to deliver world class and affordable training solutions particularly to youths in this technology-driven economy. Shobajo retired as a senior military officer in the Nigerian Air Force, over a decade ago, to start HiiT. He spoke with Emeka Okafor.
HiiT began operations twelve years ago with a mission to eradicate IT illiteracy by offering world class and affordable training/education in a customer-centric manner. Today, we are still in the pursuit of our mission. Since 1996, we have graduated twenty thousand students in our Kano and Lagos centres. It may interest you to know that HiiT has recorded matchless milestones. In 2007, it produced the first and only Java Master in Nigeria. In terms of quality training we have the facilities and the human capital. We have equally upgraded our IT Proficiency curriculum, amongst others, by fusing a marriage between International Computer Driving License (ICDL) and Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) syllabi. This enables Nigerians to kill two birds with one stone. So, for us at HiiT, rendering world-class affordable services is our brand essence.
HiiT is 100 percent Nigerian brand, so, we are stakeholders in the future of our country. In the last twelve years we have consistently delivered world-class affordable ICT training in all our centres. Empowering Nigerian youth goes beyond profit maximization. It is a call to serve, so that our nation can be liberated from both economic and digital poverty. In my perspective, I believe there should be a lot of platforms to train the youth in ICT apart from the typical Introduction to computers being taught in higher institutions. Our higher institutions are trying but ICT requires expertise and proficiency with management acumen for execution and sustained quality service delivery. We at HiiT see our role as that of intervention because ICT youth empowerment is the focal point of our development efforts. Our nation must challenge the youth with appropriate and adequate IT facilities and re-orientate them to reawake the e-spirit needed to produce IT proficient graduates, across board, as well as knowledgeable technopreneurs. This is why HiiT shall continue to render world-class affordable services to our target market.
In line with our strategic growth agenda, HiiT is investing at least N2 billion within the next one year, in at least six tertiary institutions that meet our requirements. This is only the first phase of our intervention. We aim to eventually partner with all willing universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and others. We also appeal to their visitors to help facilitate this intervention for them with good speed. Our ICT Empowerment methodology is not only revolutionary but sustainable. It is also a home-grown solution based on eight years of research. This intervention is designed to first, train all tertiary institution students to become IT proficient in the use of market-relevant computer applications taking into consideration our peculiarities in Nigeria. And second, to empower all computer science students and other students with flair for IT, with current solution development platforms and appropriate certification curricula under same roof with their academics. What is more, all these will cost the students very little. This will certainly augment government efforts in realizing its ICT empowerment component of Vision 2020.
As you also know, a purposeful and well articulated National IT policy document will form a good foundation for the Nation to leverage IT towards achieving the Government’s Vision 20: 2020. This is what most countries in our similar circumstances have done successfully. India and Malaysia are ready examples. In my opinion, the President’s 7-point agenda should be upgraded to an 8-point agenda; with the eighth point being IT. The National IT Policy Review efforts currently in progress under auspices of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), I wish, will be able to articulate something convincing enough to government in this respect. As an experienced and seasoned technopreneur, I have no doubt at all that this is our optimal path towards the actualization of Vision 20:2020
As you know, NACOSS stands for National Association of Computer Science Students. It has a local chapter in most tertiary institutions that offer computer science a course, HiiT and I have been supporting NACOSS both morally and financially for many years now. Our reasons for doing this are many. First, and as I have said earlier, our principal brand essence is IT Youth empowerment. Second, we are consciously investing in building a pool of competent IT talents/workforce of the future by discovering and nurturing them from this formative stage. You should also be aware that we are an IT solution company as well. We are a bit silent in this aspect for now because the existing pool of talents to utilize in this respect in our economy is still very shallow. So you can see the synergy. At HiiT, we are building a world-class and sustainable strategic IT concern, not a petty contracting one. That is why we have to deepen our roots for our superstructure to stand firmly in the future. In today’s e-economy, competition is global; therefore, human capital development is more critical to the survival of the private sector than the public sector. We are therefore not expecting government to do too much for us, hence our strategic relationship with NACOSS, in particular and tertiary students, in general. I am happy to report that the students themselves are not only happy but excited with both the relationship and our IT empowerment intervention concept. They have so far recognized our good efforts and contributions by NACOSS bestowing on HiiT Distinguished National Award of Excellence, on one hand, and making my good self a National Patron of NACOSS, on the other hand.
As you are also aware, NIG is an NGO that was founded/supported by some public sector institutions/agencies and the likes of Engr Olawale Ige (Former Minister of Communications), Engr. Iromantu (Former CEO, NCC) Mr. Jim Ovia (MD/CEO), Zenith Bank, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem (Incumbent President, ATCON), Engr Lanre Ajayi (Incumbent President of NIG) and Engr Ernest Ndukwe (Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC) and others in the mid 1990s. The aim was to use the platform as an advocacy organ to encourage the military government of that era to see the imperative of the Internet as a tool for economic development and also, to make internet access available around the country. In 2008, internet access, to a large extent, is available nationwide. We may argue about affordability to most Nigerians at the moment, but access is no longer a serious issue. To this extent, NIG can be said to have achieved its goal of widespread internet access. What is therefore next for NIG, as the incumbent Vice President, it’s my pleasure to let you know that our focus now has shifted to content on the internet by Nigerians in Nigeria. Our current theme is Internet for Jobs, I4J, for short. Our vision in this respect is to use the internet as a platform for creating a critical mass of job opportunities for Nigerians and making Nigeria a positive contributor to the emergent knowledge economy, and to be a preferred destination for the global Internet related services including outsourcing Web Application Development, e-Commerce and Software development. We have organized two public seminars on this theme in the last one year; more activities in this respect should be expected soon. My parting words: its time for Nigerians to start uploading contents of global commerce seriously not just to continue to download alone because the future of the global economy will be determined by content competitiveness, as most other factors would soon become constant.
Nigeria Internet Group (NIG)
NACOSS and HiiT
National IT Policy Review
HiiT ICT Empowerment Galleria in Tertiary Institutions
Cost of ICT Training/Education
Quality IT Training/Education in Nigeria
Nigeria Economy – A New Quarter but Same Old Story
By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
Africa’s largest economy entered the new quarter with a strong likelihood of following the same old story, namely COVID-19 headwinds, recessionary trends and widespread local and global market uncertainty.
What are the chances of a plot twist?
In a year full of twists and turns, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) surprised investors with a 100 basis point interest rate cut from 12.5 percent to 11.5 percent. The monetary policy signal is a green light for more affordable lending which could stimulate economic growth and temper recessionary pressures. However, the same green light could speed up the inflationary pressures which weigh on the economy.
The currency markets may view the CBN’s rate cut as a sign that monetary policy no longer prioritises foreign investors seeking high returns on deposits.
Until now, the CBN’s hawkish monetary policy helped to maintain and grow the banking system’s foreign currency reserves, providing the Naira with a cushion against further weakness. The current weakening global and domestic economic outlook does not support a high-interest rate environment in the short term. Faced with a protracted recession or runaway inflation, the CBN appears to have chosen the lesser of two evils. The central bank’s latest statement indicates that high interest rates have not been successful in checking inflation, which the CBN blames on structural factors like rising fuel and electricity prices.
This raises the question of why an Oil-producing country faces inflation in fuel and electricity prices when fossil fuels are locally produced and ought to be more affordable. The answer is the strange economic distortion created by COVID-19. In this case, Nigeria applied to borrow $3.4 Billion from the IMF in order to bail out the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will have to be repaid – cue a hike in electricity tariffs to increase government revenues from utilities and bolster its repayment capacity. This would be credit-positive as the last thing Nigeria needs in such extraordinary times are doubts over its creditworthiness.
Weaker global Oil prices make Nigeria’s creditworthiness even more of an important factor because the state is hard-pressed to cover its budgetary needs in the current climate of low demand for crude Oil.
Now that the CBN has put checking inflation lower down in its priorities, does this signal further rate cuts in the near future?
The case for further pandemic-driven rate cuts appears to be strong. The COVID-19 outbreak shows no signs of abating. On the contrary, at the time of writing, the number of new cases in Nigeria is on the rise after lockdowns eased. Further monetary stimulus to the economy appears unavoidable.
Of course, it all depends on what happens with inflation. If the inflation rate keeps rising in sectors like fuel, electricity and food it may drag on consumer spending, outstripping the economic benefits of lower interest rates. Medical costs have also risen because of COVID-19, according to the August inflation statistics.
The pandemic comes at a time when Nigeria is exposed to external and domestic risks. Locally, the drive to diversify the economy stayed stuck in first gear. Border clashes between herders and farmers led to border closures, further dampening economic activity. Externally, Oil prices remain in a slump, the US Dollar is appreciating and global sentiment struggles with the COVID-19 circumstances.
Further elevating fears over a technical recession in Nigeria, the World Bank forecasts an economic contraction of 3.2 percent for the full-year 2020, a five percent drop from its previous projection.
Summing up, Nigeria’s outlook remains influenced by the same old themes. If Oil prices stay depressed, foreign currency reserves and government revenues will likely decline. Low Oil prices also impact the CBN’s capacity to defend the Naira. A falling Naira could accelerate inflation and further weigh on economic growth. Will the final quarter of 2020 see a continuation of these themes, or will the economy offer a positive surprise?
The banking sector remains a bright spot in the cloudy outlook. Easier borrowing terms might boost the banking sector’s income while encouraging economic activity. Another bright spot is that growth in China has returned, promising to hike demand in the Oil markets and further supporting Oil prices.
After the year we’ve had so far, one thing’s sure: surprises are only to be expected.
FG Mulls Renewable Energy for Improved Power Supply
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, has said that the federal government plans to diversify the country’s energy supply sources to include renewable energy towards accelerating socio-economic development.
Onu stated this when he declared open the forum on ‘Scaling-up interconnected mini-grids development in Nigeria’, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-GEF) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria, in Abuja.
He said that renewable energy will help the nation meet its electricity needs in a functional and sustainable manner, adding that it will also improve the quality of life in the country.
“Nigeria is endowed with substantial energy resources such as coal, crude oil and natural gas; renewables such as hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, waves and tides, as well as biomass.
“The challenge before us, has always been on how to efficiently transform these resources into adequate and reliable energy for national development using our enormous capacity in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship”, he said.
The minister explained that since the inception of the present administration in 2015, electronic power generation capacity had increased at an annual rate of about 390 megawatts per year.
He, however, said that while this is commendable, it could not adequately meet the needs of the country’s population and sustain the desired level of economic development.
Onu further observed that Nigeria’s desire to industrialise cannot be realised without adequate power supply.
He stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that homes, offices, factories, schools, hospitals and laboratories in the country have adequate, reliable and affordable electricity supply.
“Renewable energy could meet Nigeria’s energy needs in the area of job creation and improved standard of living in rural areas,” he said.
He added that the development of solar photo-voltaic (Pv) in the country triggered by increase in demand for rural water supply, lighting, health services and micro-enterprise needs to be regulated to stimulate private sector participation.
ROAM Africa Reports Over 2,400 Candidates Applying for One Role as Jobs Stiffens
ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), the leading digital classifieds group in Sub-Saharan Africa, has released figures that highlight the current state of the jobs market in Africa, with one standard role attracting 2,417 applications.
Analysing 69,511 jobs listings from January 2019 to August 2020 across 5 African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), ROAM Africa’s data sheds more light on the challenges facing both job seekers and employers in the African jobs market.
The standard job listing that attracted 2,417 applications was for a Receptionist/Admin Assistant in Kenya while another listing for call centre agents and team leaders attracted 2,283 applicants.
Similar is observed also for other markets: In Ghana, 2,299 people applied for an Administrative Assistant role and 2,265 people in Tanzania applied for a Sales Representative role.
In Nigeria, the highest number of applications for a single role was 2,095 and it was for a Sales Representative role.
According to ROAM Africa’s data, Kenya contributed the highest amount of new job listings in 2019 with 33%. Nigeria was in second place with 31% and Uganda was in third place with 17%. However, so far in 2020, Nigeria is leading the way with 40% of new job listings, with Kenya in second place with 28% and Uganda in third place with 13%.
A closer look at ROAM Africa’s data reveals that, apart from Nigeria, there was a drop in overall job listings across all job levels during the last months.
However, there was an increase in graduate trainee and ‘no experience’ roles in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana from May to July 2020, which offers some hope for new entrants into the jobs market.
Interestingly, recruitment agencies contributed the most roles, with 16% of overall jobs, closely followed by IT and Telecoms with 15% and Advertising media and communications with 12%.
Some candidates have also reported applying for more than 20 jobs a day for multiple months and only getting to the interview stage on a handful of occasions. This is why ROAM Africa’s jobs platforms Jobberman (Ghana and Nigeria) and BrighterMonday (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) are focused on matching technology.
The company’s technology helps employers to identify and score the right candidates faster. Suitable candidates are made visible to prospective employers, and helped across the finish line by providing data driven career development tools and training programmes.
Job seekers using the platforms can expect to improve their CV, gain interview tips and sign-up for online training courses designed to bridge the gap between education and employment.
Commenting on the data, Clemens Weitz, CEO of ROAM Africa said, “The high ratio of applications per job listing really highlights how challenging the jobs market is for employers and job seekers. Both employers and job seekers are struggling to connect with the right opportunities and more needs to be done to address this.
“Employers must rethink their hiring strategies and clearly define what they are looking for, based on data and insights. Job seekers must also invest in personal development that will make it easier for them to stand out in such a crowded and competitive market.”
Weitz also added that, “We believe that Africa’s greatest asset is its people and their entrepreneurial spirit. With the expected growth in the continent’s population, we must begin to put structures in place that will make it easier for African businesses to make the most of this resource.”
According to Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa’s Jobs platforms, “With the current state of the jobs market, Africans cannot afford to continue with the antiquated recruitment processes that are commonplace in many organisations.
We must prioritise a digital approach to recruitment, which brings transparency to Africa’s labour market while connecting people to work opportunities that will improve their livelihood.
We must also embrace objectivity in the recruitment process by incorporating innovation that makes it easier to fairly and consistently sort for the best candidates. This will ensure that only qualified candidates are applying for roles and employers get an accurate picture of jobseekers’ capabilities. A win-win for both job seekers and employers.”
“Our data highlights both the challenge and opportunity that come with the African jobs market. We must address the challenge of rampant unemployment but also embrace the opportunity to transform how recruitment is done. By doing this, we will not only be addressing the current problems but also future-proofing our businesses and organizations for generations to come.”
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