Immediate past Director, Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Founder of the TechX Innovation Hub, Mr. Tony Ojobo has opened the center in the coal city, Enugu, South East Nigeria, declaring that ICT innovation has become the new oil.
Speaking at the formal unveiling in Enugu, Ojobo noted that as oil producing countries around the world grapple with the volatility in the oil market, thus impacting negatively on those countries, economic diversification is taking the front seat in discussions in many international fora.
According to him, the dependence on natural resources such as oil, with the attendant climate change problems has made fossil fuel less attractive, stressed that these challenges led to nation states so affected by this to come up with policies that encourage the diversification of their economies.
“Our country has recently witnessed dwindling fortunes as a result of the volatility in the international oil market. This state of affairs has stalled economic development, thus making it difficult for government to provide the necessary social safety nets and benefits for the citizens. The level of unemployment has remained in the double digits for several years. The available job opportunities cannot absorb the teeming number of graduates coming out of the universities. This has led to high level of criminality and other social vices now prevalent in our communities,” he said.
Ojobo pointed out that in realization of these challenges, his organization decided to set up an ICT Innovation Hub in Enugu to contribute its quota towards addressing this problem in the South East Ecosystem.
“The level of unemployment in this region is frightening and something has to be done urgently to address this trend,” he declared.
He underscored the hub investment in 2016 collaboration between the Young innovators of Nigeria and NCC which saw to the sponsorship to carry out a study of the ICT ecosystem in the South East to determine the level of innovations and ICT penetration in the region, which showed that the level of ICT penetration was very low and that something needed to be done to address it.
“The region has very few industries and organizations that can absorb the rising number of unemployed graduates in the ecosystem. It therefore becomes imperative to embrace technology as a way to tap into the ingenuity of the youths,” Ojobo said.
The youths of this region, he said, are reputed to be ingenious, hence the need to channel this ingenuity to productive purposes for common good.
“Initiatives such as this will contribute to reducing cybercrime by winning over the practitioners and turning them into innovators,” the former director said.
Ojobo who also is the President African ICT Foundation said the TechX stands for Technology Extra which means that technology not applied is useless.
“Technology has to be applied to deliver value to lives and businesses. The X factor of technology is anchored on the things it can accomplish to contribute to human development. The strategic vision of Tech X is focused on four key areas, which I call the 4A’s of technological advancement; Awareness, Access, Adoption and Application.
“A key strategy that addresses the issue of low ICT penetration is awareness. People need to be aware of the power of ICT to transform lives, businesses and the economy at large. The most capitalized firms in the world today are playing in the ICT space. The capacity of this technology to lift peoples and nations out of poverty is phenomenal.
He further said that in recognition of these tested facts, we decided to start from the area where penetration is low and scale up to other regions in the country.
“TechX is a global organization that is concerned with the slow adoption of technology in the developing countries especially Africa. Nigeria however, has the market, the people and local innovations that can disrupt business models around the world. We are on track to making this happen.”
He assured that at TechX they will create a platform for people with ideas to incubate, startups, business developers, coders, programmers and techies to perfect and scale up their innovations through a structured mentoring process, training and knowledge development programs. Our focus will encompass the following; Coding, Gaming, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT’s) Robotics, Digital Innovations, Business Development, ICT Training, Software Development, Cyber Security, Digital Marketing etc.