Creativity & Innovation: Building Blocks for Job Opportunities, by Inyene Ibanga
Unemployment remains one of the perennial problems confronting all developed and developing economies.
However, this is relatively lower in developed countries compared to the developing ones where significant proportions of their populations are either unemployed or underemployed.
The current global health crisis exacerbated the situation resulting in massive job losses following the lockdown that battered the global economy to the ground.
Gradually countries are on the pathway to a steady recovery from the effect of the pandemic by prioritizing and focusing on creative and innovative entrepreneurship to revamp their economic fortune.
Creativity and innovation form the driving force behind advancement in all sectors of human endeavour. No country or business organization can achieve great success without creative and innovative ideas.
The transformative impact of creativity and innovation enables society to solve its problems, improve their lives and achieve progress. The unity of these twin concepts provides a conducive environment for nurturing sound economic, political, and social connections.
Creativity involves the ability to produce new and unique ideas while innovation focuses on the implementation of creativity. This leads to the continuous introduction of new ideas, solutions, products, and processes to better the lives of people.
By practicing creativity, we can change our life, our community, and the world around us for the better. But most importantly, we discover the capacity to move from being unemployed to becoming employers.
Entrepreneurs leverage creativity and innovation to evolve new ways of improving existing products and services for optimum benefits to the customer. It encourages people to think outside the box or search for solutions beyond the ordinary.
Nigeria represents one of those developing countries that has shown unwavering resolve to entrench sustainable digital entrepreneurship powered by creative and innovative ideas, across all sectors of the economy.
The country’s obligation to achieve that goal was reaffirmed when she joined the global community to celebrate the United Nations’ World Creativity and Innovation Day (WCID 2022) on 21st April 2022.
While speaking on the importance of creativity and innovation, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, noted that unemployment and employability problems in Nigeria would be solved by creating digital entrepreneurs that are employers and wealth creators.
Pantami pointed out that no country can grow economically without giving priority to digital innovation, as such the federal government is focused on collaborating with stakeholders, especially universities, to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria’s digital economy.
The minister asserted that entrepreneurship remained the best approach to addressing the challenge of unemployment and employability adding, “The approach today is that when a student gets admitted into a higher institution, he would be directed to come up with his start-up within a year. He will be working on this till he graduates with his own company and becomes a potential employer”.
On his part, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), gave assurance that the Agency has adopted strategic initiatives and frameworks to achieve its objective of creating digital entrepreneurs to power the digital economy.
For instance, the Bridge To Mass Challenge (B2MC) and iHATCH Challenge are two of the major initiatives of NITDA aimed at challenging innovative youths to come up with solutions to pressing local problems in the areas of security, agriculture, health, education, and fintech.
Kashifu explained that the WCID 2022 celebration also served as a platform for start-ups to showcase various solutions they had developed in collaboration with the agency, through its two subsidiaries, Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) and the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), to solve problems in the economy and help Nigeria create and capture value from innovation.
Several other initiatives are being launched by the federal government and development partners to further advance the objective of creativity and digital entrepreneurship.
Recently, the federal government had flagged off the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and Huawei Technologies Nigeria as part of the initiatives being launched to further advance creativity and digital entrepreneurship in the country.
Two core ICT initiatives – the Huawei ICT Academy and the Huawei ICT Talent Cultivation projects – are to be established under the partnership for the development of 300 ICT academies in universities, polytechnics, and Colleges of Education in the country.
In addition, 10,000 university students are expected to be trained each year with a total of 30,000 students in three years, through various programmes, competitions, and other activities of the Huawei ICT Academy.
Ultimately, many university graduates would use their digital entrepreneurship skills to create products and services that solve problems, engender better lives and create opportunities for growth and sustainability.
Entrepreneurship generates wealth and creates employment which helps to reduce the menace of unemployment. Creative solutions and entrepreneurship open up job opportunities for citizens to earn income and enjoy an improved standard of living.
As such, Nigerian universities have to designate critical thinking as the core area of study in all courses/programmes. Sufficient facilities should be provided to create a conducive ambiance and applicable learning activities to help students develop the capacity for critical thinking and digital entrepreneurship.
NITDA, through ONDI and NCAIR, can engage with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and develop a new approach for empowering universities to prioritise digital entrepreneurship as a vital component in all academic programmes.
Corporate Communication Unit
Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI)