By Our Correspondent
FITC, Nigeria’s premier, world-class, innovation led, and technology driven knowledge institution has announced the top three winners in the maiden edition of its Youth Connect Essay Challenge 2020.
The winners were announced during the FITC’s virtual Pan African Technology Summit which held on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 in Lagos, with theme: “Accelerating Growth and Development in Africa: The Role of Technology and Innovation”.
Oke Donatus Chibuzor, an undergraduate from the National Open University, Lagos, Nigeria was announced the star prize winner for the essay competition. He was rewarded with $1,000 cash prize, a laptop, a Leadership Certification programme and a one-year Mentorship programme.
The second prize went to Abdul Pelumi Ganiyu, a 20-year old undergraduate at the university of Ilorin, Kwara state, who received $500, a laptop and one year mentorship programme while Ololade Oshodi, a 23-year old undergraduate at the University of Lagos, emerged as the third place winner and was awarded a laptop and one-year Mentorship programme.
In their comments, the judges said submissions by the finalists were judged on originality, expression, creativity, and appropriateness to the theme.
Speakers at the summit and awards event – Managing Director/ CEO, FITC, Chizor Malize, as the key note speaker, Tayo Awosanya, Managing Director, Zercom Systems; Greg Malize, Founder, IMPACTGEN; Adenike Sheriff, Chief of Staff/Co-founder, Future of Africa and Musty Mustapha, Co-Founder, Kuda- discussed extensively on the growth and development Africa can achieve by leveraging on technology.
In her keynote address, Malize noted that the 20thcentury has recorded major breakthroughs in technology through innovation in health, energy production, disease control, business engagement, financial services, and other enterprise solutions, and that Technology has become a great tool for driving the changes in the way the world lives, altering ways of life, individual engagements and interactions.
Malize, stated that FITC is passionate about empowering the youths with the right skills and knowledge needed to excel in todays’ tech-driven world. She noted that the star prize winner went the extra mile in his report to give depth and showed mastery of the subject, which gave him an edge over others.
According to her, “Africa is filled with very intelligent people and we are proud of all the contestants for the zeal and knowledge displayed in the course of the exercise. FITC will be adopting all winners from across Africa and exposing them to fantastic programmes in the next one year. This is definitely not a winner takes it all programme as there is something significant for everyone that has shown interest and commitment in this maiden edition,” she assured.
Speaking further, She lauded the event partners and sponsors- Bank of Industry, Stanbic IBTC, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and media partners; Nairametrics, Businessday, Proshare, Regtech, BBbuzz, The Nation and Financial Nigeria for making the event a huge success.
In his response, the winner, Chibuzor said he was excited about the prizes, FITC’s future plans for him, other finalists, and entire contestants across Africa. He said the promise of continued capacity building for all of them, showed that FITC is walking its talk on empowering the youths across the African continent.
One of the speakers, the Managing Director of Zercom Systems, a software technology company, Tayo Awosanya, noted that digitization, creativity, and resourcefulness are key elements in achieving personal and organizational success in today’s world. He noted that one of the very bright spots on COVID-19 pandemic is the acceleration in digital learning being witnessed across different sector of the economy.
For Tayo, aside turning to technology for effective and smart learning outside the classrooms, the pandemic has triggered rapid online product advertisements which is a formidable space for everyone to explore in growing their businesses and acquiring knowledge, which in turn can also become a huge source of livelihood for implementors.
In her submissions, Chief of Staff/ Co-Founder, Future of Africa, Adenike Sheriff, urged youths to consider ways of designing and implementing solutions amid challenges. She disclosed that while Africa has a plethora of problems, the problems invariably presents opportunities for the people of the continent to explore and deploy solutions for the benefits of mankind.
According to Sheriff, leveraging and finding investible ideas opens doors for organizations that will provide the needed take-off grants. Still, the promoter of such idea, she said, must have a clear understanding of how it works and what to do to turn it to reality.
Musty Mustapha, Co-Founder & CTO of Kuda, who spoke on the “Rise of Bedroom Coders” among others, stated that more Africans, many of whom are women, are learning software development with free resources online. He noted that as the continent produces coders, potentially disruptive start-ups are being founded in sectors ranging from fintech to transportation.
According to Musty, while digitization is spreading across the African continent, it is not quite a revolution yet. “Only about 20% of the people living in sub-Saharan Africa have internet subscriptions. In the same region, the average subscriber uses 300MB of internet data in a month” Musty noted.
While listing the gains of affordable banking services to the people, economy, and businesses, Musty noted that smart technology is leading and bringing people to take advantage of the global digitization that is taking place. “There are lots of start-ups springing up around Nigeria, and people have to take advantage of the industry that is exploding. What we need currently, is the democratization of knowledge to enable more people take advantage of technology to drive their businesses and promote connectivity” Musty stated.
Founder, IMPACTGEM, Greg Malize, who spoke on Connecting and unlocking Opportunities in Africa: The Role of Technology, noted that Africa has a lot of opportunities that needed to be tapped, yet there are notable challenges. In addition to infrastructural deficiencies and low technology adoption, Greg noted that only two (2) African economies are in the top 50 of the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business ranking of 190 countries around the globe.
According to Greg, Africa, the receiver of $30 billion in annual monetary aid from foreign nations, not only makes nothing from the aid it receives but loses $192 billion to the rest of the world within the same time frame. However, he pointed out that all hope is not lost as despite noted barriers, digital technologies are transforming African businesses.
Speaking further, Greg stated that Innovation Hubs are rising in Nigeria and Africa, developing viable solutions to distinct local challenges leveraging ideas and collaborating with individuals from a mix of diverse backgrounds and sectors. He also noted that Africa is crossing boundaries with Arts, media, and entertainment.
“The impact of technology on unlocking opportunities in Africa is being realized now, despite challenges to scale. Students should be taught courses in technology and be more involved with Innovation Hubs to ensure that the full gains of the scheme are delivered to the people that need them most, the youths” Greg said.