The Google Digital Skills for Africa program has been launched in Sokoto with a target to train 500,000 Nigerians in the next 12 months and to triple that number over the next five years.
Speaking at event, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, said the exercise was deliberately aimed at improving employability of job seekers and the growth of small enterprises, who are keen to join the digital world by improving their skills.
She noted that the provision of a favourable environment for enterprises to thrive as a key strategy in developing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria.
“We know that for any enterprise to become relevant and competitive in this age of digital disruption, our entrepreneurs have to be equipped with modern digital skills. This is why this partnership with Google aims to create the right technological platform for Nigerian MSMEs to thrive and prosper by building a web presence through digital innovation.”
For Sokoto, she said: “We projected training 1000 youths over the next three training days.”
The Minister noted that over 50 million Nigerians are connected to the web via mobile devices but that they still lack the basic digital skills to accomplish critical tasks of promoting their enterprises.
“Starting and growing enterprises without adequate training, mentorship and hand-holding are factors that mitigate the growth of enterprises in Africa.”
She stressed that having the requisite skills to start, grow and stay in business is key to developing a sustainable enterprise.
A press statement at the launch quoted Google Nigeria Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor as saying: “The Digital Skills for Africa program is designed to address the growth needs for jobseekers and small business owners, and has to date been rolled out to about 100 communities across a number of countries including Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.”
She added “By engaging directly with the communities that can most benefit from the training, Google is able to identify the specific needs of these communities, support their local growth activities and ensure the impact is felt not just on an individual but also at a community level.”
“Last year we announced plans to help more people in Africa prepare for jobs of the future through our local community-focused Digital Skills Training programs. Through these grassroot programs, we will be helping local communities in Africa take advantage of our 10M digital skills training initiative to grow, and to improve their knowledge of digital tools.”
Manager Public Policy and Government Relations Google Nigeria, Seemer Nyager said the launch of the community-focused trainings was aimed at helping more people in Nigeria acquire the skills they need to leverage online tools for growth and to give them access to better employment and/or the skills to start their own businesses.
He said the program provides free courses, tools, and in-person digital training to students, educators, job seekers and businesses.
“It will empower individuals, it will empower businesses, it is good for Nigeria, it is good for businesses, and it is good for google.”
In a message, the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar stressed the need to use the internet appropriately and responsibly.
Vice Chancellor Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto represented by Professor Atiku Garba Yahya assured of the readiness of the institution to contribute its quota to the programme.