IBM is set to invest $70 million building much-needed digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help support a 21st century workforce in Africa.
The initiative, “IBM Digital - Nation Africa”, provides a cloud-based learning platform designed to provide free skills development programs for up to 25 million African youths over five years, enabling digital competence and nurturing innovation in Africa.
Speaking at the Nigeria International Technology Exhibition and Conference (NITEC) in Lagos on Tuesday, Mr. Dipo Faulkner, country general manager, IBM Nigeria, disclosed that five million young Nigerians will benefit from the IBM’s global push to build the next generation of skills needed for “New Collar” careers.
“New Collar” is a term used by IBM to describe new kinds of careers that do not always require a four-year college degree but rather sought-after skills in cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, cloud, and much more.
He highlighted that the youth of Africa to be able to benefit from a cognitive future there needs to be a much higher level of digital literacy.
Seating on a panel at the just concluded NITEC 2017, he said that IBM is committed to making its solutions more relevant, solving problems for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Mr Faulkner said, “We plan to do a programme called 'Digital Nation Africa' in the last quarter of this year with a mandate to train five million Nigerians over the next two years on technology skills and skills that are relevant to today's business using technology.
"We also want to make our solutions more relevant and in a convincing manner to our clients within the local market. There are so many things we do, but the key thing is that we are here to stay and add value in making Nigeria a better hub for technology.
He said, though IBM does not have a direct solutions interface with SMEs, however they support those who provide services to the segment of businesses in the country. "Example is the co-creation hub and others; the idea behind those hubs is to create an ecosystem where they can provide solutions that can help startups/SMEs get structured and become successful in their endeavours. Our desire is to build and deploy more desirable solutions that will assist this market harness its potentials".
Speaking further the Country General Manager said “There is a misnomer about who we are as IBM; a lot of people still associate us with just computers and our old laptops. We are still in that space, but we have moved to other areas in the technology space. Yes, that segment is a still a very strong component of our business, but we presently pride ourselves as providing cognition solutions.
“What that means is that we are leading the space in developing cloud and cognition solutions. With regards to the Nigerian market, we have a great portfolio of clients across different sectors- oil and gas, manufacturing, etc. We provide leading solutions to help them transform their businesses and become more successful.
“Our very reliable and trusted solutions are making waves in the market. We are also endearing ourselves to the market. That we are not on TV or in the media doesn’t mean we are not thriving in the market or creating impacts.
“Not only are we selling our solutions to our clients, we are helping them to improve on the skills for the future. We believe that it is a very good platform for advocacy for us. It is with the required skills that you can get the full benefits of these solutions. So, we partner with Nigerian Universities; it is an ongoing exercise where we make available a set of solutions to the universities students and faculty trainers. What does that mean? It makes them get 'job-ready'.
“As they graduate, they are literates on those IBM solutions. They can act as advocates for IBM. We also move with our business partners, into classrooms, every quarter, to train them on those solutions, what the changes are and how best to make use of them”.