President Buhari’s administration is partnering with Microsoft to equip 5m Nigerians with digital skills, this is geared towards achieving a digital economy and also in line with the Economic Sustainability Plan.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a dual announcement by both the Federal Government and Microsoft Corporation, 5 million Nigerians would benefit from a digital upskilling programme, and locations in each of the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria will also enjoy active internet connection and cloud services courtesy of this digital transformation plan.
He said the partnership with Microsoft Corporation anchored on connectivity, skilling and digital transformation followed discussions between both parties led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and Microsoft President Brad Smith earlier in the year.
Speaking on FG partnership with the tech giant, Prof. Osinbajo said “our government is committed to leveraging innovation and technology to bring better outcomes across a wide area of governance concerns. Indeed, it is with this in mind that we have sought constructive partnerships that bridge the knowledge, skills and technology gap that exist in most of our communities.
“This launch is indicative of our commitment to this and will involve collaboration with various Government agencies as implementing partners, including the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian Institute of Cultural Orientation, and various other local partners. We intend that these initiatives become institutions in their own rights and make a real impact in the lives of our citizens going forward.”
On the core areas of the partnership, Prof. Osinbajo said “this partnership will focus on two pillars: Connectivity & Skilling, and Digital Transformation.
“We plan to connect under-served communities in each of the six geo-political zones with access to internet and cloud services. This project is a critical component of our objective of expanding broadband connectivity, which is by itself, a major pillar of our Economic Sustainability Plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Working with Microsoft, we intend to upskill 5 million Nigerians through this increased internet access over the next three years in various digital skills which will increase both employability and entrepreneurship.
“The multiplier effect will bring opportunities in rural and urban areas to many young people and will help us deal with unemployment problems made worse by the pandemic.”
The VP further explained, “leveraging Microsoft’s Technology tools which can be deployed to minimise governance risks and block loopholes, working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we will seek to use cutting edge analytical and case management tools to plug holes in our public sector system as well as confront white-collar criminality efficiently.
“This pillar will also serve a vital social function. by using Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence technology and resources to preserve and promote our major languages so we can revitalize these important aspects of our culture.
“Our focus is of course the Nigerian people. With over 80 million regular internet users, there is no question that Nigerians have fully embraced technology, the internet and their various uses.”
On his part, the President of Microsoft Corporation, Mr Brad Smith said the “we believe in the future of Nigeria and we are excited as a company to add to our investments. It is a country we have had the opportunity to get to know better over the last few years.
“In 2018 we partnered with Tek experts to create a Customer Support Centre, a centre in Lagos that employs over 1,600 people. And then we had another opportunity to broaden our investment even more by creating our African Development Centre. A centre that, by the end of this year, will employ over 200 software developers and engineers, people who are creating technology and Microsoft products to serve not only the people of Nigeria but the people of the world.
“All of these is giving us the kind of confidence to want to invest even more. And one of the things that we have recognized as a company is the need to grow with communities and countries and not just buying for ourselves.”
On the new partnership with the Federal Government, Mr Smith said “we are embarking on a series of broad-based, really multifaceted investments to better serve Nigeria in three areas of internet connectivity, digital skilling and digital transformation. We will be providing digital skills to 5 million Nigerians over the next three years, and along the way, creating 27,000 new jobs during the same period.”
Remittances To Africa Projected to Drop By 5.4% in 2021: UNECA
According to a new report from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), remittances to Africa are projected to drop by 5.4 percent to $41 billion in 2021 from $44 billion last year.
The report notes that the bleak situation has been compounded by the high cost of sending money to Africa from abroad, as the cost of remittances to Africa remains the highest in the world at 8.9 percent.
Remittances are an essential part of economic activity in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), including Africa. Due to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, global remittances are projected to decline sharply by about 20 percent in 2020. For Africa, remittances are projected to drop by 5.4 percent to $41 billion in 2021 from $44 billion last year, according to a new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) projects remittances.
The report, titled “African regional review of the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, notes that the projected fall is mainly due to a fall in the wages and employment of migrant workers, who tend to be more vulnerable to loss of employment and wages amid the pandemic.
The report adds that the bleak situation has been compounded by the high cost of sending money to Africa from abroad as the cost of remittances to Africa remains the highest in the world at 8.9 percent.
“A migrant sending $200 to his/her family in Africa pays an estimated nine percent of the value of the transaction, indicating that the continent is still far from achieving the three percent target set out in Sustainable Development Goal 10,” the report stated.
This signals huge deficits in millions of African households depending on their friends and relatives abroad for a financial lifeline, thus threatening a perpetuation of macroeconomic imbalances on the continent.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and Sustainable Development Goal indicator 10(c) provides that countries should, by 2030, reduce to less than three percent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than five percent.
In response, some African countries have taken action to lower the costs of remittance transfers by offering diaspora bonds to investors and relaxing foreign exchange controls to allow for electronic and mobile money transfers at reduced costs.
“It should be noted, in that regard, that the use of digital money transfer platforms reduces transfer fees in Africa by an average of 7 percent,” says the report.
“Private financial institutions also offer incentives to encourage members of diaspora communities to use their services, including low transaction fees for remittances, and facilitate diaspora-initiated projects, especially in the real estate sector. These measures all promote the financial inclusion of migrants and their families.”
The report recommends that member States support migrants and their families through adopting laws and regulations to facilitate the sending and receiving of remittances, including by fostering competition among banks and other remittance handling agencies to establish low-cost transfer mechanisms.
In addition, the report recommends that African countries make every effort to reduce the transfer costs associated with remittance payments by making more extensive use of digital transfer solutions, such as MPESA, and by streamlining the regulatory constraints associated with international money transfers.
Finally, the report concludes that the African States should also engage with destination countries to identify ways to enhance the provision of basic services to migrants in those countries as remittances are a primary source of national income for at least 25 African countries, all of which have large diaspora populations.
Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Declines to 17.01 Percent in August 2021
Prices moderated further in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, in the month of August despite rising costs and growing economic uncertainties.
Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation rate, grew by 17.01 percent year-on-year in August 2021, representing a 0.37 percent decrease when compared to the 17.38 percent recorded in the month of July 2021.
On a monthly basis, inflation rate increased by 1.02 percent in August 2021, slightly higher by 0.09 percent than the 0.93 percent filed in July, the National Buruea of Statistics (NBS) stated in its latest report.
Prices of goods and services continued to drop on paper in recent months even as costs are hitting record highs across most sectors in Nigeria.
Naira has plunged to a record-low against the United States Dollar and other global currencies following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to halt sale of forex to Bureau De Change Operators in an effort to curb illicit financial flows and forex supplies to the black market.
Naira plunged to N560 per United States Dollar at the black on Wednesday to set a new record low against the greenback and subsequently dragged on cost of import goods and profit of import dependent businesses.
Food Index also rose at a slower pace in August 2021 even with Nigerians complaining of over 50 percent increase in the price of food items. Food composite index rose by 20.30 percent in August, at a slower pace when compared to 21.03 percent recorded in the month of July 2021.
The rise in food index were caused by increases in prices of Bread and cereals, Milk, cheese and egg, Oils and fats, Potatoes, yam and other tuber, Food product n.e.c, Meat and Coffee, tea and cocoa, according to the NBS report.
On a monthly basis, the food sub-index grew by 1.06 percent in August 2021, representing an increase of 0.20 percent from 0.86 percent filed in the month of July 2021.
Looking at a more stable food index guage, the twelve-month period ending August 2021 over the previous twelve-month average, food index increased by 0.34 percent from 20.16 percent achieved in July 2021 to 20.50 percent in August 2021.
Glo to Reconstruct 64km Ota-Idiroko Road Using Tax Credit Scheme – Fashola
Mobile telecommunications giant, Globacom, has offered to reconstruct the 64 km Ota-Idiroko road in 2022, using Federal Government’s Tax Credit Scheme.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, announced this on Wednesday during an inspection tour of the ongoing reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“From Ota to Idiroko, we don’t have a contract there, but Chief Mike Adenuga of Globacom has offered to construct that road using the tax credit system.
“So, that has also started, they are doing the design, and hopefully, by sometime early next year, they should mobilize to site. The real reconstruction is going to happen if we have a deal with Glo,” Fashola said.
He said that FERMA would carry out rehabilitation works on the Ota-Idiroko road between October and December.
“But between now and December, FERMA has gone to take measurements there and they will move there from the end of September if the Ogun State Government does two things.
“Clear all the squatters, traders, and the settlers on the road and help us manage traffic and the governor as at last night has committed to doing that for us,” the minister said.
He said efforts were on to bring in Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc and Unilever to reconstruct the Badagry link to the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road under the Tax Credit Scheme of the Federal Government.
The minister said that the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road had become a problematic road due to years of neglect by previous administrations, as such the highway required a huge investment.
He commended Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his passion for fixing roads in Ogun State, adding that the reconstruction of the failed portions of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road would be completed by December at the cost of N13. 4 billion.
The minister added that the project would be handled by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
He called on federal lawmakers representing Lagos and Ogun States to ensure increased budgetary allocation for the roads to ensure their speedy completion to ease the hardship on road users.
“When people say Fashola is looking away, I am not looking away, I just can’t find the money,” he said.
He also called for support of citizens for parliamentarians to ensure more borrowing for infrastructure upgrades because the future depends on development strides today.
Also speaking during the inspection tour, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun said that the project became necessary because Ogun is the industrial hub of the nation that needed good roads for interconnectivity to boost commerce.
He said: “We have given the commitment that we will relocate traders, we will control and manage traffic, whatever that it is we need to do, we will ensure that we begin to bring succor and needed relief to our people.
“The state of that road today is pitiable. I went on that road myself and I felt bad for our citizens.”
Abiodun said the state government was ready to borrow to reconstruct the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road should there be a delay in the Sukuk funding for the highway.
“If this Sukuk bond would not happen immediately, the state government is willing to go and borrow against that promise so that we can mobilize the contractor,” he said.
He thanked Fashola for the efforts to reconstruct roads in the state and pledged the support of the state government in fixing the highways.
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