Youth Centric Technology: The Potent Weapon Against Recession And Youth Unrest
Nigeria is bleeding profusely. The country is strained under the burden of recession and youth unrest. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the 3rd quarter of 2020 shows a dip of 3.62% in real GDP for the country which confirmed that Nigerian economy is in recession.
We are in a perilous time as a nation. We need to find lasting solutions to the economic challenges of the nation. We must look for ways to reduce youth unemployment and unrest.
The only viable tools we can use to exit Nigeria from the claws of recession and reduce youth unrest is technology.
The fallouts of the protests have made it very glaring that technology can no longer be discounted. Technology was instrumental in escalating the #EndSARS mass demonstrations across the major cities of Nigeria which was accompanied by vociferous outrage on social media platforms. About 28 million tweets with the hashtag have been accumulated on Twitter alone.
This was birthed from and made possible by the power of technology through the internet! At least 80% of the protesters are youths and they used their access to the internet to make this happen.
No doubt internet and technology have become more and more prominent in Nigeria. The National communications commission said recently that active phone subscribers in Nigeria grew by 54.2 million in the last 5 years, broadband penetration moved from 6% to 45.4%, this unprecedented growth in social media market is the new mode of communication that the federal government needs to pay particular attention to.
During the period of the massive protest, we witnessed how Nigerian youths used the power of the internet to: Co-ordinate the physical gathering in major sites of the nation; share welfare packages across all major protest locations; and ask for funds and the management of said funds.
It is very evident that the Nigerian youths are very resourceful. The Government of Nigeria needs to take this as a prompt to learn how to amass the power of the internet and social media to reach its citizens especially the youths; and create massive employment.
How can this be done? Social Media literacy: The Federal Government of Nigeria needs to train its representatives on the art of using social media to disperse information, especially those meant for the youths as this will reach them faster, also the government should create the avenue for the youths to be able to speak to them via same platform, after all communication is a two way thing.
Employment opportunities: Physical vocation training is good. It is high time the government brings its training and employment programs online and teaches youths how to use the internet to make money legally. The government can organize several online schools where youths can register and polish their skills after school, learn how to start and run businesses profitably online, how to create web and mobile applications, how to export products and earn in foreign currencies and much more. The recent success story of the Fintech Startup - Paystack - has shown that in an enabling environment, Nigerian youths will thrive. Paystack was acquired by Stripe for $200 million! More of these dollar inflows into the Nigerian economy will not only rollaway the recession, it will create massive employment for the Nigerian youths and drastically reduced youths unrest.
A good example of how the government of a nation used technology to help its citizen’s is in Mexico, a government-supported project called MexicoFIRST has seen the formation of a collaboration between local companies and global IT firms to help train skilled workers in the IT industry. This by the time the program finished in 2013 helped to provide high-paying jobs for 30,000 people.
Undeniably, to realize the full potential of technological change in improving economy-wide productivity, growth and job creation, governments need to make innovation and technology diffusion policies an integral part of overall economic policy.
Mayowa Adeoti (Websitechic) is a digital transformation expert at WC digital Agency.