Techpreneurs Ignite 2.0 is scheduled to go live in Abuja this August, from the 8th to the 11th day of August, 2022.
The bootcamp which will be hosted by the Fulcrum iLab in collaboration with Microsoft and Hriscare International Foundation, will be the second installment of the Techpreneurs Ignite event which began in 2021 and marked the beginning of the Microsoft Community in Northern Nigeria.
The event is said to be dedicated to contemporary Microsoft Business application software and business analytics.
Why this matters:
In May 2021, the Nigerian government and Microsoft had struck a partnership deal to help groom the Nigerian digital economy. In a statement published by Microsoft, 3 pillars were highlighted as key to building strong foundations for a digital economy in Nigeria and eversince, the company has been working towards establishing these pillars within the country. They are: connectivity, skilling and digital transformation.
As of January 2022, Nigeria was ranked number 15 in Statista’s study of “Internet penetration in Africa January 2022, by country” and number 8 in the website’s list of “countries with the highest number of internet users, 2022“. This shows that the country of over 200 million people has a 51% internet penetration with 109.2 million internet users. While this shows steady progress for the country and its citizens, Microsoft believes that there is still much to be done to empower all citizens to take advantage of the opportunities of a digital economy, thus, the Airband initiative.
The Microsoft Airband Initiative is a project run by microsoft to advance digital equity as a foundation for empowerment and digital transformation across the world.
For this reason, the company partners with internet service providers, community organizations, public policy groups, and national/state government(s) to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet; using cost-effective, hybrid technologies and drive adoption among unserved and underserved communities.
In a 2021 report, the World Bank reported that about 50% of Nigerians lack digital skills. While presenting the report in Abuja on May 19th, 2022, Vivien Foster, chief economist at World Bank said: “Across Nigeria, the largest segment of the population is in the usage gap because they report a lack of digital literacy. More than half of the population is reporting that they don’t have the skills to use data services, so this is a huge policy challenge, one of the largest for Nigeria and for the region”.
“Another segment of the population said they would like to use data services but simply cannot afford them, that’s another concern, others argue that there isn’t enough relevant content. But digital illiteracy clearly seems to be the dominant concern in Nigeria,” she added.
In response to this call, the Microsoft African Transformation Office aims at building capacity through investing in the future of 30 million Africans by providing digital skills to Students, Developers, Startups, SMEs, Job Seekers, and Underserved Communities – bridging the skills gap in the Continent.
In the 2021 statement, Microsoft had noted that: “Technological infrastructure alone is not enough to ensure sustainable digital transformation, so Microsoft is committing to upskilling five million people in Nigeria over the next three years.
To help reach this goal, 1,700 trainers will provide blended online and in-person training courses to the country’s youth as well as government workers. Government will also be given the tools to digitally transform skilling, education, and employment methods to match job seekers with the right employers. In doing so, we hope to create over 27,000 new digital jobs in the next three years.”
Following up on these promises
In the month of March, 2022, the company had invested $200 million in Nigeria during the unveiling of its newly established African Development Center (ADC) in Lagos, Nigeria. It has also selected 6 regions in the country where it hopes to develop high-speed internet infrastructure.
On April 1st, 2022, in a presentation to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, alongside the President and Executive Vice Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, Brad Smith, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami asserted that Microsoft had over 200 Nigerians working for them within the country and in Seattle. And that 320,000 Nigerians have been trained on digital skills by the big tech company.
Microsoft in Northern Nigeria:
In a chat with The Hub, Tabitha Hris, Pioneer of Hriscare International Foundation, co-founder of GoVirtual Africa and the Northern Coordinator of the Microsoft Community in Nigeria, had spoken at length over the benefits and impacts Microsoft has had on the country especially in Northern Nigeria.
“In 2019, I came across a microsoft event which lasted for 5 days and I was amazed at what microsoft tools could do… Microsoft just made a lot of things easy where you can create an app in less than 15-30 minutes,” she said.
According to her, the Microsoft Northern Community began after that event.
“I discovered that most of the attendees of the programme (in Abuja) came from the South (Lagos) and of the 37 certified Nigerian Microsoft trainers in attendance, there was none from the North. And so we told them (the organizers) that we needed this initiative in the North. It took us about two years but when we started Techpreneurs Ignite, they came and were amazed at the turn up.”
Techpreneurs Ignite is one of the many initiatives hosted by Microsoft to enhance skilling and digital transformation in Nigeria. However, it was the company’s first outreach project in Northern Nigeria.
The bootcamp was launched in partnership with Hriscare International Foundation, on December 1st 2021, in Jos, Plateau state; where participants were trained in data and artificial intelligence, effective use of Microsoft tools, among other things.
This year, however, the venue for the event has shifted to the Nation’s Capital city with added sponsorship from the Lighthouse Church—presenters of the Fulcrum iLab. The venue for the 4-day event is at the Fulcrum iLab 43, Ajose Adogun Street Utako, Abuja.
“We are in the position of an unprecedented, self-driven economy; where there are countless opportunities available as long as you’re willing to search within your environment,” the Lighthouse Church said in a tweet.