The Tech Experience Centre, an ambitious technology project aimed at bridging the gap to cutting-edge technology for millions of Nigerians, has been described as strategic to the Federal Government’s plan to build a digital Nigeria for all citizens.
The foregoing was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami.
Pantami who was the Special Guest of Honour, at the formal unveiling of the Tech Experience Centre expressed delight with the project, even as he conveyed the feelings of President Muhammadu Buhari on the launch of the massive initiative.
The Centre houses a convergence of globally renowned tech giants such as Cisco, HP, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, Zinox, Schneider Electric, Samsung, Apple and Bosch, among others, all under one roof to create an immersive experience of the latest technologies.
‘‘I am delighted to be here today to witness the commissioning of this landmark project. I am here to convey the regards of President Muhammadu Buhari who has been instrumental to the current drive of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy for the ICT sector to achieve a Digital Nigeria.
‘‘We are happy to see this huge technology initiative become a reality as it shows the private sector has bought into our visions for Nigeria. Achieving a Digital Nigeria is not the responsibility of government alone. The role of government is to come up with the right policies and create the enabling environment while the private sector also supports the efforts of government. This Tech Experience Centre is very strategic to the seven pillars of our digital economy strategy which include: Digital Literacy and Skills Development; Service Infrastructure; Solid Infrastructure; Digital Services Promotion and Development; Soft Infrastructure; Digital Societies and Emerging Technologies and lastly Indigenous Content Development.
‘‘I wish to commend TD Africa and the Zinox Chairman, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh for their efforts in birthing this Tech Experience Centre which we are certain will create a huge opportunity for our youths and many other Nigerians,’’ he disclosed.
Also speaking at the event, Chief Host, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu hailed the management of TD Africa for the bold initiative, even as he disclosed that the Lagos State Government is already laying the foundation for the state to be the technology hub of Nigeria and West Africa.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat emphasised the important role of technology as a game-changer in any society.
“Technology provides data and it is the most effective way to achieve the ease of doing business. Data is the new currency. Any company that does not have a good database will collapse as it helps in the ease of doing business.
“Technology also helps in managing information. It is used in security, education and to collect data in the hospitals. Nigeria needs to urgently harness the use of technology to develop the nation,” he said.
‘‘I commend the Zinox Chairman and TD Africa on the launch of this impressive technology project. Indeed, technology is the pillar of all the plans of the present administration in Lagos. In order to maximize the potential of the state, the deployment of technology is very critical,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, commended the Federal Government and the Lagos State government for their increased emphasis on the technology sector. Ekeh, a serial digital entrepreneur, described the renaming of the Ministry of Communications by President Buhari with the addition of Digital Economy as a masterstroke, even as he heaped praises on Dr. Pantami for his sterling leadership. The Zinox boss, who revealed that technology is the currency of new wealth in the 21st Century, revealed that the sector holds the key to the future of Nigeria’s digital wealth. Consequently, he called on the Federal Government to empower the youth especially in ICT, noting that Nigeria is the only place in the world where tech guys are among the poorest.
“Government needs to encourage the youths by empowering them as most of them work in that sector. Also, many youths are equally interested in developing the country through technology so they need to be empowered,” he said
In addition, he praised the Lagos State Government for creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, urging business owners to take advantage of the opportunity to invest in the state.
In her opening address, Head of the Tech Experience Centre, Chidalu Ekeh revealed that the Tech Experience Centre will play a key role in building local capacity and growing the Nigerian economy.
She said: ‘‘Right here and in this building, we are placing cutting-edge technology from the biggest tech giants at the fingertips of every Nigerian. As a matter of fact, we are not only bridging the gap to these technologies but also boosting local participation in the global technology ecosystem and increased adoption of technology by our people. We are excited by the multiple collaborations that would emerge from this landmark initiative, especially in view of its potential multiplier effects in re-writing our technology narrative and boosting the Nigerian economy.
‘‘The Tech Experience Centre will also play a very essential role in building capacity among Nigerians. Specifically, we intend to build an army of digitally-compliant youths and global citizens by exposing them to advanced trainings and certifications in the area of Information Technology, with many of them subsequently expected to build apps, crafts and other solutions that will address peculiar challenges in Nigeria or even solve global problems.’’
The event had a number of dignitaries drawn from the public and private sector. Among these was the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi; Commissioner for Science and Technology, Lagos State, Dr. Hakeem Fahm; Chairman, MTN Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe; Founder/CEO, MainOne, Funke Opeke; Chairman, Stanbic IBTC, Peterside Atedo; MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonwo; MD/CEO of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, MD/CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Lamin Manjang; MD/CEO, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan; former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ernest Ebi and his wife; former Chairman of Accenture, Mr. Dotun Suleiman; MD/CEO Stanbic IBTC Capital, Mr. Funso Akere; Executive Director, Access Bank, Mr. Victor Etuokwu, MD/CEO, Providus Bank, Mr. Walter Akpani; Chairman, Aso Savings and Loans Plc., Alhaji Ali Magashi; former CEO, Diamond Bank, Mr. Emeka Onwuka; Founder/CEO, Britannia Oil and Gas, Mrs Catherine Iju Ifejika and her husband, Mr. Emmanuel Ifejika; media entrepreneur and ace blogger, Linda Ikeji; renowned fashion couturier, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, just to mention a few.
The Tech Centre is widely expected to boost Nigeria’s relevance in the global technology race and shore up the country’s march to technology independence.
For the first time, Nigeria will play host to the latest global technologies including those not normally available in Africa, offering all classes of visitors a first-hand experience of new gadgets, solutions and infrastructure that would have previously required a visit abroad, thereby saving corporate organizations, government establishments and individuals money or scarce foreign exchange expended on these trips.