Code for Employment: NITDA, Communications Ministry Urged to Extend AfDB Project Across 774 LGAs

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy have been advised to extend the Code for Employment initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.

An Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert, Akindayo Akindolani, made the call on Friday at the closing of a two-day summit organized by Afritex in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja.

He said since NITDA, for instance, has computer centres built in almost the 774 LGAs nationwide, the digital ambassadors trained by the AfDB through partnerships with Microsoft and the McAnderson Institute of Technology (MIT), could support more unemployed youth at the grassroots areas.

This move, he added, could help reduce the rising unemployment rate in the country, as the capacity building would prepare the beneficiaries for high-paying remote jobs in the digital space.

“NITDA can scale the project in all the 774 LGAs by empowering the Digital Ambassadors trained to continue the redeployment of the capacity building in their local governments,” he said.

“I am confident that code for employment is capable of reducing unemployment once we expose our youth to the required skills for future jobs. Once our people are rightly skilled with the in-demand-driven skills, getting a job placement within and outside Nigeria would be easy.”

The AfDB’s Code for Employment program is a pilot project where 500 change makers, 45 percent of whom are women from four countries, were selected for the digital ambassadors program.

The selected digital ambassadors embarked on a three-month course during which they were equipped with in-demand digital skills, such as software development—also, soft skills, such as problem-solving, project management, and communication.

The beneficiaries are subsequently allowed to partake in a peer-to-peer training model that seeks to expand digital skills to more African youth, especially in rural communities with limited internet connectivity.

According to him, the coding for the employment program is operational in Côte d’Ivoire with 75 participants, 100 beneficiaries from Kenya, about 150 from Nigeria, and 175 youth from Senegal.

Akindolani, the founder of MIT, further advocated the need for the education ministry to infuse digital literacy and coding skills into the school curriculum.

According to him, the policy would, in the long run, help the majority of the students become labor employers rather than wait for the usual white-collar jobs.

He advised that the potential partners could provide a stipend for the code for employment beneficiaries across the local communities in the local governments. This, he noted, was to grab their attention and ultimately deliver on the project.

“The Digital Ambassadors Program has come at the right time when the Bank is finishing the Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa Action Plan 2022–2025. The Action Plan will equip African youth with the skills that are in high demand, skills the labour market requires. Both will complement each other and will positively impact Africa’s workforce and lead to economic transformation,” said Martha Phiri, the Bank’s Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development during the project commissioning.

Some recent beneficiaries are Mr. Usman Zakariyya Muhammad from Bauchi, Mr. Idris Adegbite, Lagos, Mr. Olumide Adebayo, also from Lagos, and Mr. David Chigbu from Abia state.

Akindolani, however, noted that the project is already in alignment with the vision of the communication ministry on job creation through digital skills.

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