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UN, Foreign Affairs ministry seal deal to drive Nigerian youths in ICT skills, broadband

Ahead of 2030 target for global mobile broadband coverage, the United Nations (UN) has started international drive to deepen access to mobile broadband.

The campaign was the basis for the 2017 Spring Meeting in Hong Kong, SAR of China, where the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, an arm of the UN, lamented poor access to about five billion people.

Participants expressed worry on observed blockage to digital services and applications for much of the world’s population, thereby holding back progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Just as the summit called for extension of access to remote and rural areas; The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has agreed to assist Nigerian youths in the area of information communication technology (ICT) development.

The UN agency’s representative to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Jean B Bakole, made the pledge when he visited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to present his Letter of Credence.

Statistics show that in Nigeria, mobile broadband penetration is put at 20 per cent, with the Federal Government eyeing 30 per cent penetration and 80 per cent growth in Internet activities by 2018.

Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, highlighted that, “ICT and broadband are linking everyone and everything for the betterment of economies and societies. We are motivated by wanting to have the global community connected, especially the billions of unconnected. We will succeed when we work together: government, industry and civil society leaders.”

Secretary-General of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission, Houlin Zhao, said: “Our central conviction is that broadband and ICTs are critical if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. ICTs underpin vital achievements and modern services in many sectors, and governments and industry must increasingly work together to create the conditions so badly needed to facilitate the growth of broadband for sustainable development.”

Bakole told Onyeama that the UNIDO’s commitment to boost the capital base of women and youths engaged in small and medium scale enterprises remains high especially in developing economies.

He said UNIDO choose to empower Nigerian youths in ICT so as to fasten the integration of future generation in digital and knowledge economy which is driving major economies of the world.

Bakore added that “We saw that a lot of young women are involved in small businesses. We are concerned about how we can give them capacities to run their businesses. We have to put in place, a number of incentives including the financing strategies that can help them to move ahead”.

“The major issue is that in UNIDO, we need a strong commitment of the government of Nigeria to support industrialization. There is no country in the world which has been developed without going through strong industrialization.”In his response, the Minister congratulated him on his new assignment and pledged government’s support in ensuring a conducive work environment.

Earlier in his remarks, the host Minister, welcomed the gesture and assured the UNIDO chief of support in his new job.

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