COVID-19: Nigerian youths tasked to exploit digital skills as means of survival

Nigerian youths have been advised to join hands with the government to acquire necessary digital skills for self-reliance, post-COVID-19 era.

They have also been warned to remain committed to their talents as educational qualifications without prerequisite skills may no longer guarantee success considering changes in global trends.

The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, gave the advice during an online interactive session with Nigerian youths on the topic, ‘Education, Employment & Technology in Nigeria, Gaps & Opportunities Post COVID-19 Pandemic’.

Mallam Abdullahi lamented that the outbreak of Coronavirus has been a monumental disaster globally which has led to disruptions in the global economy, caused sharp drops in global crude oil prices, destroyed financial markets and resulted in a massive loss of employment.

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He, however, maintained that using technology for human capital development and employment for the next generation, the impact of COVID-19 can be minimized.

“As of March 28, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had caused more than 1.6 billion children and youths out of school in 161 countries. This is close to 80% of the world’s enrolled students,” he said.

“Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate was 23.1% in 2019 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), though some predicted it could reach 33% by 2020. Youth unemployment and underemployment is 55.4%. With the onset of the pandemic, these statistics cannot be better,” he added.

Abdullahi explained that as a result of the closure of schools due to COVID-19, NITDA under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy commenced a virtual academy for those at home to learn new skills.

“There will likely be a post-COVID-19 boom and areas to watch out for include ICT for mass literacy, Healthcare, Agriculture, Women Empowerment, Security and Surveillance. There will be opportunities for content production, animation design for learning, drones for medical supply deliveries, robotics in medical surgeries and telemedicine and sensors for proximity monitoring,” he said.

The NITDA DG insisted that “all these can only be achieved if Nigerian youths leverage on digital skills rather than paper qualifications only.”

“To succeed, we need to improve our technology innovation to defeat the pandemic and turn it to a blessing in disguise. Whether we like it or not, there is certainly a new normal in post-COVID-19 pandemic where digital technologies are playing a major role,” he added.

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