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Ministry to partner NIPSS in harnessing digital economy for youth empowerment

The minister said collaboration with NIPSS would facilitate capacity building for young people in the digital economy.

• April 17, 2024
Minister of State for Youth Development, Ayodele Olawande
Minister of State for Youth Development, Ayodele Olawande[Credit: LinkedIn Nigeria]

The Minister of State for Youth Development, Ayodele Olawande, has said the Federal Government is making  efforts to harness the potential of the digital economy in empowering the youth.

Mr Olawande said this on Tuesday in Abuja when the Senior Executive Course 46, 2024, of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, Jos, visited the ministry on a study tour.

The minister said that synergy with NIPSS would go a long way in capacity building for young people in the digital economy.

According to him, with more than 50 per cent of its population below the age of 30, Nigeria has a significant demographic advantage in the digital age.

Mr Olawande said that the year’s theme was “Digital economy, youth empowerment, and sustainable job creation in Nigeria: Issues, challenges, and opportunities.’’

According to him, Nigerian youths are tech-savvy, innovative and eager to contribute to the country’s economic growth.

He said, “However, they face numerous challenges, including limited access to quality education, skills training, and job opportunities. The digital economy offers a unique opportunity for Nigeria to leapfrog traditional development challenges.’’

The minister said that with the rise of e-commerce, digital payments, and remote work, the youth could access global markets, skills training, and job opportunities like never before.

He said that the country must address the issues and challenges hindering the growth of the digital economy in Nigeria.

“These include limited digital literacy and skills training, inadequate infrastructure, including internet penetration and electricity supply. High cost of data and limited access to funding; cybersecurity threats and data privacy concerns; limited government support and regulatory frameworks.’’

Mr Olawande said that in order to overcome the challenges, the ministry had implemented various initiatives, such as digital skills training programmes for youths; focusing on areas such as software development and data analytics.

He also listed digital marketing especially in the NYSC-Galaxy Back Bone partnership to improve infrastructure including internet connectivity and alternative electricity supply.

The minister said that other things were funding opportunities, such as grants, loans, and venture capital, to support startups and small businesses with the launching of the National Youth Investment Fund.

He stated, “We recognise that sustainable job creation is critical to Nigeria’s economic growth and stability. Our goal is to create an ecosystem that supports innovation, entrepreneurship, and employment opportunities for our youths.’’

According to him, the ministry seeks collaboration in areas such as policy development, providing insights and recommendations for policy development in areas related to the digital economy, youth empowerment and sustainable job creation.

He requested assistance in the development of strategic plans for agencies, private sector organisations, and civil society groups working in those areas.

“Capacity building–offering training and capacity building programmes for the youth to enhance their skills and knowledge in the digital economy and related fields.

“Research and analysis–conducting research and analysis on various aspects of the digital economy, youth empowerment and sustainable job creation; providing data-driven insights to inform decision-making, among others.

“As we move forward, it is essential to prioritise digital literacy, innovation, and entrepreneurship, while addressing the issues of infrastructure, funding, and regulatory frameworks.

“By doing so, we can unlock the potential of the digital economy to create sustainable jobs and empower our youth to drive Nigeria’s economic growth and prosperity,” Mr Olawande said.

Speaking earlier, the leader of NIPSS delegation, Nima Mann, said that they were in the ministry to research, proffer solutions, recommendations and strategies to help the government chart its course for the year.

“We are in the ministry to listen to what you are doing to help the youth; how you are doing it; strategic plans and way forward as well as how we can use the digital economy to chart the goal for sustainable job creation,” she said.

(NAN)

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