Global information technology giant Microsoft said it has trained 18,000 Nigerian youths and gifted the total sum of N3.5million to the inaugural winners of the competition tagged #DigitalForAll Challenge.
The free digital skilling initiative and competition which was launched on September 15, 2021 designed to drive engagement of young people in the digital economy across Nigeria and give them equal access to technology-centric decent work and economic opportunities was a sub-programme under Microsoft’s Emerging Market Model Initiative, implemented in Nigeria by Tech4Dev.
The #DigitalforAll Challenge was categorised into basic and advanced level skills training delivered over a four-month learning period, followed by a month-long competition phase (at the state, regional and national levels).
Through the challenge, over 17,000 youths were successfully upskilled, while 2,490 participants moved on to the competition stage, with the states, regional, and grand finale level. Also, 87 participants moved on to the regional level, while 8 participants moved on to the grand finale.
The 8 participants who moved on to the grand finale were three basic level finalists and five advanced-level finalists. The finalists were Nelson Didam, Ifeoluwa Odewale, Hassan Masharazu (basic level) and Folaranmi Adeoye, Justin Nworie, Sanni Zainab, Stephanie Agbo and Folaranmi Adeoye (advanced level).
Speaking at the #Digitalforall grand finale, founder/director of development, Tech4Dev, Joel Ogunsola, highlighted the objectives of EMMI through the campaign. “The objective of the Emerging Market model through the various programs under it, is to train 36,000 youth over one year through a blended learning approach: online and physical through skill training and youth centres across Nigeria. We are achieving these objectives through multi-year collaboration with Federal Government Ministry of Youth and Sport and state governments.”
Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi, technical assistant on Information Technology to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, who gave the keynote address, in his speech commended the work Tech4Dev does, saying: “It is compulsory that we prepare for the future of work, and equipping youths with digital skills is one sure way to do that. So, I want to congratulate Tech4Dev, Microsoft and everyone that has partnered with this worthy cause. I believe this would be a template for others going forward.”
The panel session on “The Role of Digital Literacy in National youth empowerment” had Adaeze Sokan, country director, UK-Tech hub; Diran Adegoke, programme coordinator, Young African Leadership Initiative (US Mission to Nigeria); Idongesit Udoh (PMP), head UK Govt., digital access program (Foreign Commonwealth Development Office) and Mr. Shehu Ibrahim, general manager ICT, Nasarawa State government.
In her address, the country manager, Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, Olatomiwa Williams, recognised the efforts of Tech4Dev and participants of the challenge. Also, she praised Nigerian youths and reiterated that Microsoft was committed to partnerships that help empower people with digital skills.
“We believe in the innovations that Nigerian youths create to impact our country and indeed the world, and that’s why digital skilling is important for us. We would continue to lead by example to deepen impact and development for all in markets where we work by partnering with government, corporate organisations, educational institutions, non-profits, and every one to ensure success.”
The grand finale event was brought to a close by the co-founder/executive director of Tech4Dev who announced the winners of the #DigitalForAllChallenge.
Nelson Didam won the Basic Digital Skills challenge, while Theresa Sunday, an engineering student from the University of Lagos, emerged winner of the Advanced Digital Skills challenge. Both winners went home with N1 million and N2.5 million, respectively.
Tech4Dev is a non-profit organisation dedicated to creating access to decent work, entrepreneurship opportunities and platforms for Africans through digital skills empowerment and advocacy.