Akeredolu’s initiatives in Information Communication Technology
By Adetokunbo Abiola
Any government seeking to make impact on the lives of young people must look in the direction of ICT, which is not only a veritable employment generation avenue, but also capable of making them innovators.
This is because technology apart from evolving solutions to myriads of contemporary challenges has the potential to engage thousands of young people and make them solution providers.
The Akeredolu administration, aware of the importance of Information Comunication Technology, has been taking giant stride in the sector since it came into governance two years ago.
As a move to enhance tech knowledge in the country and also to suppress gender biasness, the Ondo State Government in August 2017 organised a four-week summer ICT training for 100 secondary school girls.
At the opening ceremony, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, the First Lady, emphasised the need to train the girl child and said further that “Imparting knowledge of the ICT to the girls in Ondo State carries all importance and priority in this digital age” and that “it will broaden the horizon of these young women and place them strategically in the world”.
The programme was organised by the state government in collaboration with SAO Capital Limited, an ICT firm.
Governor Akeredolu, in his remarks, noted that the innovation would encourage the girls to pursue careers in science and technology.
“As the world continues to rely on information and communications technologies, it has become crucial that the voice of our young women is represented in the digital world”, he said.
Trainings at the venue included computer appreciation, Introduction to Microsoft office suite, Corel Draw among others.
“This is a great move by the Ondo State Government. If you are a female in Ondo state, you should take advantage of the ICT training. The world is getting digital; you shouldn’t deny yourself an opportunity if you come across one, “said Mr. Tope Runsewa, representative of SAO.
Not long after the initiative, the Ondo State Government, in partnership with SAP, trained and empowered its teachers in digital technology, ahead of the SAP Africa Code Week (ACW).
SAP Africa Code Week (ACW) initiative had received accolades as a critical leverage to bridge the continent-wide digital divide, as well as being a significant launch-pad for youth empowerment in the digital era.
Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, gave a rousing speech where he thanked SAP and ACW key and primary partners (UNESCO Youth Mobile, the Cape Town Science Centre, the Galway Education Centre and Google) for their vision of empowering every African child though ICT.
The governor spoke through the Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, at the two-day Train-the-Trainer hands-on workshop organised by SAP in partnership with the state.
Based on the globally-acclaimed scratch interface developed by the MIT Media Lab to simplify the face of coding for the young generation, the training was aimed at imparting coding skills to secondary school teachers across the three Senatorial Districts in the run up to Africa Code Week 2017,“ which took place from 18 to 25 October 2017 across 35 countries.
The Governor said he considered the workshop as very relevant, since the time had come for government and the private sector entities to work together to promote digital access, improve ICT skills and create opportunities for youths in our ever-competitive and dynamic world.
“It is also gratifying to note that SAP shares this philosophy that we need to join forces to bridge the digital skills and gender gap continent-wide. I am therefore very happy that SAP is deploying their skilled volunteers to train teachers in Ondo State who, will in turn, train the next generation of ICT savvy youths,” the governor said.
Akeredolu said the state desired that the citizenry of Ondo State participate actively in the new economy, benefitting from the opportunities it presents. To facilitate this, he said the government was championing many ICT initiatives such as the planned establishment of Tech Hubs in each of the three senatorial districts, to make governance more effective and efficient.
This will provide an enabling environment for different categories of youths and ICT enthusiasts to acquire and develop different skills in information and communication technology, which can be deployed for economic gains as ‘techpreneurs’, the governor said.
In February 2018, Ondo State Government distributed 362 data management tools known as clinipak tablets to health workers to enhance primary healthcare delivery across 18 local government areas of the state.
The distribution was inaugurated by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by Dr Wahab Adegbenro, the state Commissioner for Health in Akure.
Akeredolu said that the state government decided to embark on the project to enhance effective management of health information data, which was key to the delivery of qualitative healthcare.
According to him, health workers had earlier been trained on the use of the ICT tools.
The state procured the tablets, while the technical partner, Insrat Global Health Solution, designed and installed the Clinipak application.
The governor said that the tools had been tested and proven to be the ideal solution for data management.
He urged the health workers to hit the ground running as the tablets were meant to improve both their efficiency and effectiveness.
Similarly, Mr Abiola Oshunniyi, Director, Business Development International, said that with the Clinipak application, health facilities in the state would move from just collecting and reporting patients data to leveraging on mobile solutions for improved decision from facility level to the policy making level.
Oshunniyi added that the application was currently being used in some states in Nigeria, but that of Ondo State was the largest deployment.
Shortly after this epoch-making event, the state governor on Friday, 23rd February, 2018, commissioned the first-of-its-kind Akure Technology Hub at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, as part of activities marking the Akeredolu-led government one year in office.
Addressing the gathering, Mrs. Akeredolu emphasized the importance of technology in building a virile society.
According to her, there is the need to develop ICT with the aim to bridge educational gaps in rural communities.
She charged the academic community to develop ICT and begin to work towards deploying it to meet education and learning needs of youths in the core areas.
“In this core area, we don’t have teachers. I believe we can use technology to improve the quality of teaching and learning and deploy it. Lessons in Mathematic and Physics for example can be relayed from this Tech hub to these core areas – that is my dream”, she added.
Earlier in his address, the Special Assistant on ICT, Mr. Olumbe Akinkugbe, noted that this was the first time that such a partnership between the government, academia and the private sector will be happening in Africa.
He further expressed hope that the small start-ups businesses will leverage on the opportunities being given them through the initiative and promote technology as the Akeredolu-led government has promotion of education as well as technology as part of its cardinal programmes.
The Convener for the Emerging communities, Joel Ogunsola, who is the representative of Tech-Up, noted that Akure Tech Hub was introduced to make the state capital one of the most preferred technology frontiers in Africa.
According to him, 82 applications were received, 15 shortlisted and trained after which a pitch was organized to select the most innovative start-up.
The climax of the event was the presentation of a total of $6250 and awards to the winning teams.
In August last year, no fewer than 400 female pupils in Ondo State begun a summer training in Information and Communications Technology under the sponsorship of the Office of the Wife of the State Governor, Mrs Betty Akeredolu.
The programme, tagged ‘BEMORE Summer Bootcamp 4 Girls Naija’, is the second in the series of the training, as the first was held in 2017. The programme also involved training the girls in the use of solar technology.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the programme, Akeredolu, said the training was meant to empower girls in the state, in the area of ICT and solar technology.
She said that many of the girls who benefitted from the first edition of the training were making use of the knowledge acquired to assist their various communities.
She added that the exercise had been yielding positive results as one of the beneficiaries won the Africa Code Week Scratch Competition for the state recently.
400 participants were drawn from different secondary schools across the 18 local government areas of the state for the event.
The following month, the Akeredolu administration collaborated with United Nations to bring human capital development and investment through technology to Ondo State
This event held at Nigeria House, 828 2nd Avenue, New York, USA. It was a high-level event and a platform to discuss available opportunities to accelerate the impact of development in Nigeria through investment in technology-driven solutions.
However, the event was hosted parallel to the United Nations General Assembly and brought together corporate organizations, economic development experts, government representatives and civil society leaders to discuss increasing investment via technology-aided interventions towards accelerating the impact of modern/updated technologies in our society.
Furthermore, the event showcased technology interventions in the areas of healthcare, education, and economic empowerment.
Also, it provided a platform to share case studies, networking and knowledge exchange.
The following month, the state government announced plans to commission Digital Village Projects (DVP) across the state to train about 96 youths monthly as part of its strategic plans to reduce high rate of youth unemployment.
The project is to be located across the three senatorial districts. About 96 youths mostly fresh graduates and young secondary school leavers are targeted to attend the program.
Speaking at a press briefing in Akure, the Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT and the Chairman of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), Olumbe Akinkugbe, said the project is ICT Resource-based centre with the aim of providing various services to the public through computers connected with the internet, cameras, printers and other communication infrastructure, all backed with 24 hours electricity.
According to him, the project was targeted at young school leavers and unemployed graduates with a view to engaging them in productive and meaningful ventures that will bail them out of endless search for white-collar jobs and aerobic cycle of poverty through digital skills.
Akinkugbe expressed belief that some of the youth will undoubtedly start their ICT entrepreneurship investment through other ICT dependent services such as POS, internet services and agency banking to boost rural trade and commerce.
And, then, at last, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, commissioned the Digital Village Project with an assurance that it will reduce rural/urban migration.
The digital village project was implemented in partnership with America Tower Corporation and directed at the 18 local government areas of the state, with the two pilot centres at Uso in Owo Local Government and Ondo in Ondo West Local Government.
Beneficiaries of the projects were graduates and non graduates and it will be a continuous one for every two weeks free of charge.
24 trainees comprising 12 graduates and 12 secondary school leavers took off in each of the centres at Uso and Ondo Town and the beneficiaries were selected by their communities.
Commissioning the project at Uso in Owo Local Government, Akeredolu said it will reduce the high rate of youth unemployment in the society.
Represented by the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Femi Agagu , Akeredolu said the project was aimed at creating digital village that will encompass all the rural dwellers.
Senior Special Assistant to Ondo State Governor on ICT and Chairman of State Information Technology Agency, Mr Olumbe Akinkugbe, said the project was ICT resource-based centre with the aim of providing various services to the public through computer connected with Internet, cameras, printers and other communication infrastructures, all backed with 24 hours service.
“It is the intention of the government to develop various ICT skills in the teeming youths so as to make them self-reliant or employable in the digital economy,” he said.
On other benefits of the projects, Akinkugbe submitted that it would drastically reduce youth restiveness, thuggery, rural urban drift among other social vices.
Akinkugbe said the project is one of the means of inculcating the rural dwellers to enjoy what those in the cities are enjoining.
It will be easier for the people in the rural communities to transact their business online without coming to the city. JAMB, WAEC and national and international examinations are now registered online and we are in digital world. It will make everybody in Ondo State to be compliant irrespective of where you live.
Leave a Reply