By Teddy Nwanunobi
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — No fewer than 81 young Nigerians benefited from the Federal Government’s disbursement of more than N700 million World Bank approved grant under its Growth and Employment (GEM) project, on Tuesday, in Abuja, as the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, expressed optimism that Nigeria can dominate the global digital economic space in the future.
Osinbajo, who assured of Federal Government’s readiness to support start ups to become blue chips, informed that Government would keep encouraging innovators to provide solutions to key aspects of the economy, such as agriculture, health and communications technology, while driving inclusive economic growth.
He said the Federal Government would work with key global institutions to ensure Nigeria creates opportunities for youths in digital economic space.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari decided to host the Aso Villa Demo day about this time last year, tlo bring together the best young innovators across the country. It is the beginning of government’s involvement in a revolution that would change our nation and our world. We are optimistic that the capacity of our Innovators is limitless.
“Today, we are here to witness the start of our MSMEs Technology start-ups. We have 81 innovators, who have gone through a competitive process, and are now qualified as game changers for the Nigerian economy and the World at large. Recall Mark Zuckerberk was here for flag off the Demo day, and we must build on the recorded success and monitor these beneficiaries and ensure they succeed,” Osinbajo said.
Speaking further, the Vice President also assured that there is a provision already a provision in the 2017 Budget estimates for investment in technology hubs across the country.
The Federal Government is currently training 25,000 youths in digital skills, which underscores the determination of the Federal Government in creating platforms for youths through digital creativity, which is where the global direction heads currently, the Vice President said.
Speaking along the same vein, Okechukwu Enelemah, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that majority of the companies and grant recipients that qualified for the grants are run by Nigeria’s brightest young minds, showcasing the potential of our youths.
“All of these beneficiaries are Alumni of Aso Villa Demo Day, which was an initiative of the President to identify young Nigerians, seeking to provide technology enabled solutions to our most pressing challenges,” Enelemah said.
The presence of Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook at the inaugural event, underscores Federal Government’s commitment in scaling up the MSMES sector, especially those leveraging technology to solve local and national problems, Enelemah said.
Also, one of the beneficiaries, who identified herself as ‘Mamamoney’, who is also the CEO of Fintech technology, said she is currently working with 4000 low income rural women in assisting them in their businesses, and lifting them above poverty.
She said she is also targeting more poor rural women in her distribution network nationwide, as she plans to to expand the scope of her business with the GEMS support.
Also, Andrew Dabalen, a representative of the World Bank said the GEMS project align with the Economic Recovery Plan of the Federal Government, while expressing that the grant beneficients could grow to become global brand with proper guidance, and generate revenue for the country.
The GEMS project focuses on agriculture, light manufacturing, processing, ICT, and SMEs.