Nigerian Government inaugurates advisory board to tackle unemployment

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Ali Pantami

Na’ankwat Dariem, Abuja

The Nigerian Government has inaugurated  members of the Advisory Board of the Abuja Team for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) to address unemployment Rate in the country.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami who inaugurated the committee said this will drive economic and innovation- entrepreneurship in Nigeria and it’s inspired by the present government’s fight against poverty and focus on economic development.

The Minister said, although the focus was officially Abuja, the project would be replicated in all the states of the Federation and the learning and principles applied through REAP, are transferable to any town, city, state or region of this dear nation of ours.

According to him, the main purpose of the programme was to adopt, and adapt, MIT’s proven frameworks on accelerating innovation to create localized strategies for developing and sustaining enterprises driven by innovation (IDEs). The march towards a Digital Economy, which I currently oversee, will depend on harnessing scaled innovation towards fulfilling the 8 pillars, which our national strategy is built upon. Although the programme emphasises regional teams, the benefits from this undertaking invariably spread beyond local boundaries; which can only be good for Nigeria. 

The MIT-REAP provides opportunities for communities around the world to engage with MIT in an evidence based, practical approach to strengthening innovation driven entrepreneurial ecosystem.

MIT-REAP is designed for  high-level teams selected from regions dedicated to working alongside MIT Faculty over a 2-year period to drive innovation-driven entrepreneurship in their city, region or The undertaking was inspired by the President’s fight against Poverty and his focus on Economic Development. Hence, in 2018, after a period of evaluating options on programmes that could help deepen the emerging innovativeness observed by the ministry among our youth; and catalyse economic growth and impact therein, a team of decided that the REAP programme offered by MIT offered the best proven example of such. And in January 2019, the ministry decided to make the application to MIT as Team Abuja.

It would be recalled that Lagos had previously undergone REAPS which has yielded benefits to its ecosystem. The Lagos team had colleagues from Canada, Iceland, Peru, Spain and the UAE; attesting to the importance that the world places on creating innovation driven ecosystems, and Nigeria’s aspiration to operate at global best standards.

Also, in May 2019, MIT accepted Abuja’s application to embark on the programme after a competitive assessment of bidding regions from all over the world.

By this, Abuja is joining in REAP’s 7th Cohort by teams from regions in Denmark, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan (ROC).

Pantami I have humbly taken up the role as Champion of the Abuja Team and have with me a talented group of people with varied but valuable backgrounds that have kept working hard towards implementing REAP for Abuja.REAP is not, and cannot be a short-term gimmick, but actions emanating from it can begin to take root now. It is strategic and will be incorporated into our Digital Transformation plans.

With the induction of Abuja into REAP, federal government seeks  to develop harmonized strategies and remove identified bottlenecks; in order to catalyze innovation and the business of innovativeness.

The Minister therefore charged the committee to offer useful and new ideas that would bring progressive change into the system.

‘‘Your perspectives on issues can offer critical assessments, new ideas and support for any necessary changes that we need to make in our systems for the long-term good. ‘We are depending on your vision and experience, therefore, to help us focus better and drive wider support and advocacy for the principles we have. For REAP to succeed, no entity can act alone, saying that MIT requires a collaboration between 5 stakeholder groups, which the committee represents,’’ said Pantami.

Beyond the team itself, the Minister said the implementation of REAP has required creating wider partnerships with other players within those stakeholder groups, adding that the success of REAP will

‘‘I look forward to bringing the REAP Framework as a basis for collaboration with arms of the Federal and State Governments; among others. Collaboration with these entities, and the private sector, will be vital.If we do this right, local entrepreneurship will rise to a quality that attracts high levels of venture capital investment and solidifies our direct investment profile. Abuja is an attractive destination for FDI into Nigeria, and with this it can only improve further.

The Director General National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Inuwa said the MIT-REAP project will accelerate the advocacy for the adoption of digital technological skills in the educational sector.

The committee is made up of 29 members drawn from the Academia, Industry Private and Public sectors among them are the Minister for the FCT, the Executive Secretary Petroleum Equalization Fund and the DG NITDA, whose organisations shall spearhead the government stakeholder

Meanwhile, Abuja has bided to host the 3rd workshop in this series to take place in January 2021.It is expected to bring prestige to the country as it has never been held in Africa.

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