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NITDA launches free virtual learning academy to bridge capacity gap

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Ibrahim Isa Pantami


• Mulls holding FEC meetings online

In efforts to boost digital literacy in Nigeria, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has launched a free Virtual Learning Academy, to bridge the capacity gap created by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Launching the academy in a virtual event, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Isa Pantami, said with the recent outbreak of COVID-19, ICT skills and training have become a necessity for many services including governance that can be done on line.
He hinted that if approved, the Federal Executive Council meetings and other such meetings would also be conducted virtually.

Pantami observed that the Academy will enable the Ministry create a pool of trained and skilled youths; encourage continuous learning at home, build, upgrade and integrate our capacity among Nigerians as well as bridge the gap between the academia and the industry.
He said, “The Academy would add value to millions of skilled and unskilled Nigerians to prepare them for the Post-COVID-19 economy.

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This is commendable, looking at the way the Pandemic has started changing the way things are being done globally. With over 3.1million people haven contracted the virus globally, and 217,000 dead, it has started changing the world completely. For the first time we are commissioning a project in Nigeria virtually, this is what CIVID-19 has caused.”

The Minister explained that the Academy training, which is free, will provide opportunity for most Nigerians especially civil servants, and Nigerians in various sectors to access digital education and skills they may need to fit into the emerging Post-COVID-19 economy.

Stressing that the Academy was already enjoying a wide range of enrolment, which he placed at over 12,000 enrolees in two weeks, Pantami said the idea would also bridge the gap between various disadvantaged barriers such as women, girls, the physically-challenged, and less-privileged in the society.

He said the innovation was one of the pillars of enhancing the digital economy sector to further reposition Nigeria, and place it on the path to effective ICT development.

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Pantami said, “The commissioning of the Academy being unprecedented, we are working to conduct the Federal Executive Council meetings virtually. Particularly, if there is a critical issue the President will conduct meeting virtually. If that is approved, we will go on to conduct the FEC meetings virtually. The Ministry, NITDA and Galaxy a Backbone are working and few others are working day in day out to ensure we begin to have our m FEC meetings virtually.”

The Communications Minister said the recent outbreak of COVID-19, ICT skills and training had become a necessity that would as many services including governance would be done on line.

Pantani then called on all citizens to utilise the opportunity to build their capacity and skills, and also charged students in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning to leverage the platform provided by the NITDA Academy to acquire more skills, insisting that the era when certificate counts over skills is over.

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In an address, the Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said the initiative would enhance efficiency and transparency in governance.

According to him, the Academy was put in place to mitigate against the effects of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
The country Manager of CISCO, Olakunle Olatimeyi, said: “the launching of the Academy is an important journey for Nigeria, not just now that we are faced with COVID-19, but for the future.”

He advised the Ministry to make sure it carries service providers along, and offer them subsidy so as to make their services affordable for more Nigerians.

Other speakers who gave their goodwill messages included the representatives of Oracle, Huawei, CISCO, and heads of agencies under the Ministry.

The platform is hosted in partnership with NITDA, Microsoft, Oracle, CISCO, Huawei, and Harvard University, among others.

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