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‘Technology crucial to tackling Nigeria’s rising poverty level’

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Afolabi Imoukhuede


•BoI seeks job creations in millions

To tame the rising poverty level in Nigeria, and Africa, the region would need to focus more on adopting technology, which allows many things today that were inconceivable or impractical in the past.
   
Speaking in Lagos, yesterday, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Job Creation and Youth Employment, Afolabi Imoukuede, said with a population of over 1.216 billion people, Africa has more that 500 million people living below the global poverty line ($1.25 a day). This, he said accounts for about 40 per cent of the global population living below the poverty line.
   
Imoukuede, who spoke at a technology conference, organised by Softcom, with the theme: “Combating Poverty: The Role of Technology in Driving Social Change in Africa,” said Africa is the world’s last frontier in the fight against extreme poverty and also the next frontier in the world of global economic opportunities.

 
According to him, projections from the World Data Lab revealed that Africa has now reached a milestone in the fight against poverty.

“As of March 2019, and for the first time since the start of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), more Africans are now escaping extreme poverty than are falling (or being born) below the poverty line. This is refreshing good news, points to steps being taken in the right direction.
  
“However, the pace of this net poverty reduction is currently very small: only 367 people per day. Nevertheless, by the end of this year, this rate is projected to increase to over 3,000 people per day, resulting in a one million-person reduction in total African poverty by 2020,” he stated.
   
Imoukuede said it has also becomes critical to bridge the poverty gaps in the region, so as to be able to earn the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, “having missed the benefit of the first, second and third revolution.”
      
In the area of education, Imoukuede noted that e-learning solutions, and “free” online learning resources, home school for pupils that allow students to learn at their own pace, and numerous forms of experiential learning rather than just the traditional informational type learning must be encouraged across all strata.
      
Speaking on combating poverty, the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, said technology has been playing a pivotal role in BoI’s operations, noting that poverty in the region shows years of inadequate investments.
   
Pitan, who admitted that Nigerians are enterprising and resourceful, said with the availability of technologies, “they can do more and make the economy buoyant.”
   
While praising the Federal Government’s N-Power initiative, which he said has impacted over 500,000 youths in the country, Pitan said technology is key to enabling the over 20 million small scale business owners, who have no access to loan.

   
According to him, there must be targeted and deliberate efforts to end poverty in Nigeria and Africa.

Corroborating the stance of Pitan, BoI Executive Director, Toyin Adeniji, said jobs should be created in millions and not just thousands in Nigeria.
   
Adeniji said SMEs must be supported if the economy must improve, adding that 80 per cent of jobs created in the country is from SMEs.

She argued that when SMEs are supported, they must also be sustained, “we have about 27 million SMEs in Nigeria, if at least half of them are supported, there will be a multiplier effect. If the SMEs are supported with technology, their impact will be felt greatly.”
    
From his perspective, the Chief Executive Officer, Softcom Limited, Yomi Adedeji, the size of the country’s population should be explored greatly and positively.

According to him, there are also resources, which can help the country grow and sustained its growth.

Adedeji said technology must be explored adequately if poverty must be eliminated in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

         


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Afolabi Imoukhuede
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