An indigenous technology company and technical partners to the Nigeria Federal Government on the N-Power project, Softcom has kick-started the conversation on the importance of technology in the fight against poverty, as it recently hosted a conference with the theme: Combating Poverty: Role of Technology in driving social change in Africa.
Softcom CEO, Yomi Adedeji Speaking at the conference said the 12-year-old company is focusing on addressing fundamental development issues tied to Identity, payment, data and learning. He said these four pillars formed the bedrock upon which any development initiative would rest.
“For any development initiative to be successful, we have to first solve the issue of identity.
This is because a one-to-all approach to solving development issues will make little impact and limit sustainability. Individuals function within economic clusters or communities. It is important to take cognisance of these peculiarities in designing an intervention programme.”
With a population of over 1.216 billion people, Africa has more than 500 million people living below the global poverty line (the US $1.25 a day). This accounts for about 40 per cent of the global population living below the poverty line. Africa is the world’s last frontier in the fight against extreme poverty and also the next frontier in the world of global economic opportunities.
According to projections from the World Data Lab, Africa has now reached a milestone in the fight against poverty as more Africans are now escaping extreme poverty than falling (or being born) below the poverty line. Nigeria has also set a target to lift 100 million of her citizens out of poverty over the next 10 years.
Speaking at the conference, Afolabi Imoukhuede, senior special assistant to the President of Nigeria on job creation, noted six pillars comprising identity, digital literacy, education, agriculture, financial services and health that would facilitate social inclusion and national development. He added that strong government participation in policymaking, resource allocation and ecosystem development is required to fast track development in these areas.
Imoukhuede lauded Softcom and other partners on their technical expertise in implementing the N-Power project, describe the intervention by Softcom as the ‘eureka’ that brought the government’s objectives to light.
“A traditional method of implementing the program would have limited enrolment and training delivery to under 40,000 participants; however, with the aid of technology, the programme was able to enrol over 500,000 beneficiaries for the graduate and non-graduate programme across the 774 local governments in Nigeria”.
Expressing his delight at the successful implementation of the N-Power project, Imoukhuede stated, “Nigeria now has a transparent, replicable and scalable model that can be adopted across all tiers of government and for all types of development initiatives. N-Power will expand into other connected economic clusters that will ensure sustainability and inclusive growth.”
The conference sought to advance technological solutions to Nigeria and Africa’s socio-economic development challenges in light of upcoming conversations at the world economic forum (WEF) in shaping inclusive growth and creating high-quality employment opportunities. The SDG Agenda 2030 of ending poverty, ensuring equitable quality education, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all was also referenced.
Also in attendance were; Kayode Pitan, managing director, Bank of Industry; Toyin Adeniji, executive director micro-enterprises, Bank of Industry; Ernest Umakhihe, permanent secretary, ministry of budget and national planning; Premier Oiwoh, managing director and chief executive officer of Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS); Olatunde Adekola, senior education specialist, World Bank Group; Tobias Wolfgarten of German GIZ operations; and Hilda Kragha, CEO, Jobberman.
The event also featured a panel and open discussion session with outcomes that sought to drive an agenda for inclusion and social change for Africa’s accelerated development with technology as the driving force.
The critical role technology played in the implementation of the N-Power project from the application stage to selection, training and remuneration processes was emphasised.