Video: Concentration More on Skills, rather than Paper Qualifications—Minister

As technology and the use of technological innovations and inventions gradually replaces human capacity in areas of service delivery in varying sectors of the global economy,there seems to be a re focus to innovative  skills development, entrepreneurship and productivity. These are measured on the basis of practical know-how which helps  secures ones space in the growing competitive market. Thus, the need for employers now to focus on  soft and hard skills has never been more crucial to the survival of organizations

Benching on the global best practice of placing more significance on  communication skills, presentation skills anlaytics among other  output oriented skills summing up the soft and hard skills, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has stresed the need for Nigeria to rise to the status quo as opposed to the traditional paper qualifications used to adjudge individuals competence for a job. According to him, Certifications are supposed to validate the skills.

The Minister who made the call at the ground breaking ceremony for the launch of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship centre held on the 4th of February 2021 in Abuja  said , the centre under his watch would adopt the use of Innovation driven entrepreneurship (IDE) concept. The establishment of the centre he said, is strongly rooted in 6 pillars out of the 8 pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and strategy. The centre will however utilize the concept of “Live, work and learn” which would be achieved through the approach of “think, reflect, and experiment” and thus adopting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) model of regional entrepreneurship acceleration program of innovation driven entrepreneurship (IDE).

“The Centre will be based on the ‘live, work and learn’ concept. The activities of the centre align with 6 out of the 8 pillars of our National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria.  These include Pillar #2 (Digital Skills), Pillar #4 (Service Infrastructure), Pillar #5 (Digital Services Development and Promotion), Pillar #6 (Soft Infrastructure), Pillar #7 (Digital Society and Emerging Technologies) and Pillar #8 (Indigenous Content Development and Adoption). We are also developing National Policy on Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which this Centre and many other centres all over the country will implement.

Our National Digital Economy Policy appreciates the importance of identifying and supporting Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) and it also focuses on encouraging many of these SMEs to go a step further by aiming to become Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs). The IDE-concept has been promoted by leading institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and these enterprises, no doubt, have great advantages. In contrasting IDEs and MSMEs we find that IDEs tend to have a global outlook while SMEs tend to start small and choose to remain local.

IDEs also generally require more capital than SMEs and tend to integrate innovation more into their activities more than SMEs. However, they can have a far more significant impact on the economy than the SMEs can. To further illustrate this, imagine the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a nation of IDEs. A 2015 Report notes that such an ‘MIT-nation’ would have been the world’s 10th largest economy, with gross revenue falling between the GDP of Russia ($2.097 trillion) and India ($1.877 trillion).I currently lead an Abuja Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT-REAP) to accelerate the development of home grown IDEs in Nigeria. We are adopting MIT’s proven frameworks on accelerating innovation to create localized strategies for developing and sustaining enterprises driven by innovation. That same IDE-approach will be utilized in this Centre”.

As noted by Dr Pantami, Digital Innovation and Digital Entrepreneurship are two prerequisites to developing indigenous digital economy. This is because without promoting indigenous innovations and indigenous entrepreneurship nothing can be achieved in terms of the development of our indigenous economy in Nigeria.

It is based on this note that the National Policy for Digital Innovation and Digital Entrepreneurship is being put in place to casket relevant pillars as embedded in the NDEPS ,proferring practical solutions that will guide the country towards developing it’s indigenous digital economy. This policy is to focus entirely on Digital innovation and Digital entrepreneurship.

Dr Pantami further stated that there are several benefits that Nigerians will enjoy from this Centre as he reiterated the agitation raised during the Federal executive council meeting of the need for more funding to support the establishment of such centre across the six Geo political zones and subsequently all States of the Federation. The benefits outlined  includes the  acquisition of  cutting-edge technological skills; creating enablement for Nigerians to participate in the development of hardware, software and emerging technologies; creation of an innovative ecosystem; creation of a unique platform for technical skills (programming), soft skills (social interaction), entrepreneurship (starting and operating a business) to focus on the promotion and development of ICT, including smart energy solutions to drive ICT;nurturing of new ideas and develop an inquisitive perspective to support in the creation of employers of labour;supporting in the promotion and development of ICTs, including aspects of advanced applied research; and allows startups to accelerate and experience innovations at scale, through customized visits, design thinking sessions and co-innovation workshops to create a highly collaborative and immersive environment”.

Pertinently,  the 8 pillars of the NDEPS has since it’s inception defined the core vision and implementation focus, as Dr Pantami said 2021 will be marked the year for implementations.

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