Softcom Limited has identified technological solutions that could drive social inclusion across the African continent and help Nigeria alongside other countries in the continent meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The conference hosted in Lagos on Thursday by the indigenous technology company, which is also a technical partner to the Nigerian government’s N-Power project, was themed: “Combating Poverty: Role of Technology in driving social change in Africa.”
Delivering the keynote address at the event, Mr. Afolabi Imoukhuede, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari on job creation, said there are six pillars that would facilitate social inclusion and national development, namely: identity, digital literacy, education, agriculture, financial services and health.
He noted that strong government participation in policy making, resource allocation and ecosystem development is required to fast track development in these areas.
The event also featured a panel and open discussion session with outcomes that sought to drive an agenda for inclusion and social change for Africa’s accelerated development with technology as the driving force.
Imoukhuede lauded Softcom and other partners on their technical expertise in implementing the N-Power project, describing Softcom’s intervention as the ‘eureka’ that brought government’s objectives to light.
“A traditional method of implementing the programme would have limited enrolment and training delivery to under 40,000 participants; however, with the aid of technology, the programme was able to enrol over 500,000 beneficiaries for the graduate and non-graduate programme across the 774 local governments in Nigeria,” he said.
Expressing his delight at the successful implementation of the N-Power project, Imoukhuede added: “Nigeria now has a transparent, replicable and scalable model that can be adopted across all tiers of government and for all types of development initiatives. N-Power will expand into other connected economic clusters that will ensure sustainability and inclusive growth.”
Speaking at the conference, Softcom CEO, Yomi Adedeji, said the 12 years old company is focused on addressing fundamental development issues tied to Identity, Payment, Data and Learning. He noted that these four pillars formed the bedrock upon which any development initiative would rest.
“For any development initiative to be successful, we have to first solve the issue of identity. This is because a one-to-all approach at solving development issues will make little impact and limit sustainability. Individuals function within economic clusters or communities. It is important to take cognisance of these peculiarities in designing any intervention programme,” he said.
He also emphasized the critical role technology played in the implementation of the N-Power project from the application stage to selection, training and remuneration processes.
“We designed a platform that guaranteed transparent recruitment, and beneficiary verification, which ensured that no ghost worker existed in the N-Power programme. In addition, the platform enabled effective and seamless multi-stakeholder collaboration.
“In order to lift whole communities out of poverty and ensure inclusive growth, our development must be led by data and planning, not just ideas. We must take advantage of technology to identify and enrol our people into the National identity system so everyone can be known and verified; we must democratize quality education, ensuring equal access for everyone, and aggressively drive financial inclusion to ensure that money and the services associated with it are universally accessible,” Adedeji added.
The conference also served as a platform to advance technological solutions to Nigeria and Africa’s socio-economic development challenges in light of upcoming conversations at WEF on shaping inclusive growth, and creating high quality employment opportunities.
Daily Trust reports that the N-Power Impact Report – a documented guide for institutions interested in replicating similar socio-economic development initiatives across Africa – was also launched at the event.
Among dignitaries and stakeholders who graced the event are Mr. Kayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry; Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, Bank of Industry; and Mr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Others are Mr. Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS); Dr. Olatunde Adekola, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank Group; Mr Tobias Wolfgarten of German GIZ Operations; and Mrs Hilda Kragha, CEO, Jobberman.