From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has expressed delight at the decision of the Microsoft Corporation to partner with the Federal Government for the benefit of Nigerians, especially the youth.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement on Friday. It said the firm offered to support the digital transformation arm of the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan.

According to the presidential aide, the support will be a continuation of the company’s investment in Nigeria after the establishment of an African Technology Development Centre in 2020.

Osinbajo spoke at Thursday’s virtual meeting he had with Microsoft Corporation team led by its President, Mr Brad Smith. The Vice President further noted that the company’s interest in supporting the efforts of the Federal Government is a welcome development and could be leveraged to address issues affecting the youth, especially in engaging them productively.

Speaking on the need to constantly engage with the youth, Osinbajo said Nigeria’s case is peculiar given that they constitute a larger percentage of the country’s population, hence the need for all stakeholders to pay more attention to that demography.

He said, “It seems to me that there is just a wave of general anger around the world and people are generally impatient. Impatient with government, impatient with practically all of the formal structures there are.

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“But I am open and happy to hear what views there might be on trying to engage and engage even more with young people (and in our case, that is 70% of our population, if not more).

“So, we are really talking not just about the youth population but the Nigerian populace because that is the majority. So, whatever it is that we are able to deploy to be more inclusive, to engage, even more, is really a solution for the entire populace as opposed to a solution for just a segment of our population especially given the fact that young people constitute 70% or even more.”

On government’s efforts in developing the technology space especially in boosting viable sectors of the economy, Osinbajo said, “We have a digital innovation initiative which we hope will be the foundation for doing far more in the digital space than we are doing at the moment.

“Just looking at agriculture, this is obviously something that we have spent quite a bit of time and resources on especially in the past few years. We have also seen the development of a good number of agric-tech type companies and fin-techs that are also working in the agric sector. So, it’s a whole load of innovation around the agric tech space, especially in the past few years. So, I think we really are up for programmes that will support these sorts of agric-tech initiatives”.

Earlier in his remarks, Smith reportedly noted that his company’s vision for investment in Nigeria was one that would lead to the creation of Africa’s most viable technology ecosystem.

He said the company’s investment in Nigeria is a demonstration of its enthusiasm about the digital transformation ongoing in the country.

“He proposed a 90-day timeline for stakeholders on the government side and from Microsoft, to iron out details of the various areas of collaboration,” the statement added.