Letter to young Nigerians: Facing the new decade – Part 2
The man who makes chocolates from cocoa is bound to be richer than the cocoa farmer. He has added value to the raw cocoa by processing and designing and packing the chocolates in appealing wrappers. By adding value, he will create more jobs and more wealth. So, while we will always need the traditional professionals, doctors, lawyers, accountants and bankers, those adding value to their services will make more money than they can. So those developing Artificial Intelligence for giving legal advice or medical diagnoses, or accounting or banking will be more successful than the professionals themselves. So, the future of banking and financial services doesn’t belong to banks or bankers as we know them today, it may well belong to the FinTechs and other technology-enabled solutions. For example, today we have KiaKia, which uses Artificial Intelligence and algorithms, to process loan requests in minutes and grant credit without the hassles of regular banks. Besides, there is Kuda Bank, for example, a bank without a single physical branch with all its features built into a mobile application. There is also Eyowo, another example of a payment services company which is designed for identifying, enumerating and paying to and collecting repayments from 2.2 million TraderMoni and MarketMoni beneficiaries. They have revolutionized financial inclusion, making and receiving payments from the farthest parts of Nigeria. There is also another company called Paystack, whose founders are just over (the age of) 30. They have developed applications that make it easier to make payments across the world. There is also InvestBamboo, for example, which was started by two 26-year-olds, and offers new ways for you to save money and invest in stocks, all from a single application.
Others have developed technologies that make it possible for you to invest in a farm without ever seeing the farm. Two Nigerian companies again, ThriveAgric and Farmcrowdy, set up by young Nigerians under the age of 35, are great examples of the service providers that help small-scale farmers scale-up, and access valuable training; and all of these done through crowdfunding. In the world of medicine and healthcare, there is LifeBank, owned by a young Nigerian lady. This is a health tech startup, which also uses drone technology to facilitate blood delivery to various health centres. We could highlight another called 54gene, a firm that is harnessing genomic data from African DNA to revolutionize the drug industry, and change the future of medicine. Even in the usually conservative legal profession, which I am the chairman, entrepreneurs are disrupting old trends. There is a digital legal research company called Law Pavilion, the company’s digital tools help lawyers to do legal research quickly and efficiently and even answer legal questions. Judges and lawyers subscribe to it and the usage is a very lucrative value addition to legal practice. Yet the founder and CEO of the company is not even a lawyer. So today there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to build their businesses around traditional professions without being professionals themselves. The most widely read online publications are neither owned nor run by trained journalists. Some of us are familiar with the news aggregation platform called Nairaland which was started by two Obafemi Awolowo University students while still in school. Today it is one of the most successful online platforms we have. Even many of the most successful online advertising or PR companies have no formal training in these disciplines, most are self-thought. My nephew, who is a lawyer, is establishing an organic farm and poultry after taking lessons online. His only knowledge is derived from taking a few classes from somebody in Kano State offering online training for people interested in poultry farming.
But let me direct your minds to the new areas for job opportunities being created today. Data Science is one big area. Currently, we leave vast amounts of personal data online and in the near future, companies will need data scientists to go through it all and generate answers to business questions and make recommendations based on their findings. Many businesses already spend time and money going through people’s data so that they can sell their products. This is a new area of opportunities for jobs. A big area today is Content Production – 3D/2D animation, Virtual Effects and Special Effects, as well as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. The use of animation in education, entertainment and media is growing in leaps and bounds. Those who can create content with animation are being and will be much sought after in the years to come. According to a recent survey by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, multimedia artists and animators are among the highest-paid within the US workforce. This has translated to more jobs for animators in emerging economies such as India, Vietnam and now Nigeria. The average pay of a 3D animator in Nigeria who has just started out after learning his trade could be in the region of N300,000 – N500,000 monthly. In our training of N-Power beneficiaries, we set aside a fair amount of money to train animators. We have carried out two sets of training; one in the North and one in the South of Nigeria. In total, we have trained over 25,000 young men and women in animation. Also, remember that content is becoming more in demand with the streaming wars that have engulfed Netflix, Apple, Disney Plus, HBO and only recently, Airtel, the telecommunications provider, launched its own streaming service in Nigeria. Then we have the whole range of Cybersecurity, another big area of opportunity. Today, there are new opportunities for cybersecurity specialists. How is that? With each technological advance comes the implied addition of more security risks just to store and keep the information secure. Therefore, cybersecurity will continue to be a growing sector. In this sense, each country will have its own specific regulations just as we have and many other international regulations, which will ensure that professionals with an advanced technological background capable of nullifying new threats posed to both technology and people, will be in demand all the time.
How about 3D Printing? 3D printing is becoming an area of great need. It will become even more relevant and fundamental in the future when compared with Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Experts in 3D printing must possess creative skills with the ability to improve the profitability and applicability of models. Also, they must have computer skills and knowledge of 3D printing tools. The Federal Government established a humanitarian hub in Adamawa State about two years ago. In that hub, young Nigerians are making artificial limbs with 3D printers for people who lost their limbs in the conflict in the North East. This is a growth area which will continue to grow because 3D printing can be applied in different ways and for many purposes. It doesn’t take a year to learn how to use 3D printers. The technical revolution from the last few decades have considerably changed the business and cultural world. Currently, we live in an “application economy” as a result of the amount of technology and mobility that surrounds us with our smartphone applications that we depend on for everything, from mobile banking to even health monitoring. As such, it is difficult to find a reason why one shouldn’t try to find a career related to technology, especially when we consider that it is already present in everything we do; from our professions in our companies to our personal lives as consumers.
This means computer programming in one shape or form of the other, will continue to be an important skill for those seeking viable employment and a decent pay. So today, the most successful businesses are those able to add value, even our culture can become a great wealth creator, but only if we add value. So just doing traditional dances is not enough, to put together 8 or 16 barefooted young men and women dancing when foreign guests are visiting cannot make enough money. Organizing dance dramas, on the other hand, can make money. When a whole drama outfit is created with our culture and our songs, where we are able to employ a director, scriptwriter, a composer and an arranger, then it is possible to make money from our cultural dances.
In our future, there is truly something for everyone. We should all take advantage of digital technology, especially social media and the various platforms on offer, to grow a customer base, gain traction and advance businesses. You can write a blog, develop a website to sell your products or even your ideas – whatever it is you know how to do best. People are running fully-fledged commercial businesses on Instagram without a single physical shop, an opportunity only made possible by the internet. We are an entrepreneurial people, a society of multitaskers who, thanks to the virtual economy, can make a real opportunity out of anything we are passionate about.
To be continued tomorrow
Osinbajo is Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.