The Federal Government on Wednesday commissioned a virtual academy learning centre, an initiative of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Dr Isa Pantami,the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, while commissioning the academy, in a Webinar monitored in Abuja, said it was part of FG’s efforts toward building the country’s economy post COVID-19 era.
The academy would be supervised by NITDA in collaboration with Microsoft, Oracle, CISCO, Huawei and Harvard University among others.
Pantami said that the academy became necessary because there was a major disruption in the activities of humans with the emergence of COVID-19.
He recalled that the disease had affected about three million people and killed no fewer than 200,000 persons globally.
The minister said it was only necessary that Nigeria joined the commity of nations in ensuring that its economy did not enter into recession.
He said it was important to put measures in place and leveraging on local innovations to mitigate against economic recession.
“The academy will enable the ministry to create a pool of trained and skilled youths, encourage continuous learning at home, build, upgrade and integrate our capacity among Nigerians.
“It will bridge the gap between the academia and the industry, add value to millions of skilled and unskilled Nigerians to prepare them for the post COVID-19 economy era.
“With over 3.1million people having contracted the virus globally and 217,000 dead, it has started changing the world completely.
“For the first time we are commissioning a project in Nigeria virtually, this is what COVID-19 has caused,” Pantami said.
Pantami further said that due to the ongoing lockdown, the ministry and its relevant parastals were working to create a virtual meeting platform for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.
According to him, the FEC meetings need not be interrupted because it is an avenue for the government to take decisions on issues affecting Nigerians.
“The commissioning of the academy being unprecedented, we are working to conduct the FEC meetings virtually.
“Particularly, if there is a critical issue, the President will go online and conduct meeting virtually. We are waiting for the approval of the President.
“The ministry, NITDA and Galaxy Backbone and a few others are working day-in day-out to ensure we begin to have our FEC meetings virtually,” he said.
He further urged the NITDA to support building the capacity of more Nigerians, particularly in the area of emerging technologies in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
Pantani, however, called on all the citizens to utilise the opportunities provided by the COVID-19 era adding that there were lots of underlying opportunities especially in the tech ecosystem.
He also advised students in secondary schools and higher institutions to leverage on the platform provided by the NITDA Academy to acquire more skills.
“I encourage our students to key into this initiative because today, it is no longer about the skills they acquire but about the skills and capacity.”
Earlier, the Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said the academy was conceived to mitigate the effects of the lockdown engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inuwa said that NITDA was promoting digital literacy strategy for the post COVID-19 era in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The country Manager of CISCO, Mr Olakunle Olatimeyi, said the launching of the academy was an important journey for Nigeria in the future.
Olatimeyi tasked the ministry to ensure it carried service providers along, as well as offering them subsidy to avail services to more Nigerians.
The academy training would be free to interested candidates, adding that it was categorised in three segments.
It is designed to equip public servants to acquire needed skills they needed to fit into the emerging post COVID-19 economy era.
The training also had various courses that would lead to certification by partners on the initiative.