Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday received a delegation of Chinese technology entrepreneurs led by billionaire and Co-founder of AliBaba Group, Jack Ma, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mr Ma is in Nigeria on the invitation of Vice President Osinbajo as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to promote technological innovation amongst young Nigerians as a means of job creation.
Speaking while receiving the delegation, the vice president said the creativity and resourcefulness of young Nigerians doing incredible things in the technology space across the country and beyond presented great opportunities for partnerships with global technology giants.
He told his guest that Nigeria has energetic and creative group of young men and women as well as older men and women who were increasingly interested in free enterprise, especially digital entrepreneurship.
He added that Nigeria represents an incredible opportunity and potential with a huge population of youths in the next two decades when the country becomes the third largest in terms of population in the entire world.
“So, the potential is tremendous, it is an incredible potential that we have. So, we are at a point, and your coming is very strategic, in our trajectory and in the progress of our country.
“I think, it is a very important moment and what we are seeing – a lot of entrepreneurship, a lot of young people who are very actively engaged in the digital economy at various levels,” he said.
Osinbajo spoke about some of the steps already taken by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to support young Nigerians in the technology space in building skills and capacities to create opportunities for themselves and others.
The vice president, however, said the country had major issues around financial inclusion for a large number of people, especially those living in the rural area.
He said making payments or doing financial transactions across the country presented a challenge that must be tackled.
Osinbajo expressed optimism that the programme called Broadband Connectivity for all by 2023 was basically designed to see how the country could deepen connectivity for all.
“We are also looking just as you said about e-government, that’s also crucial because government tends to be viewed with a great deal of suspicion; nobody is quite sure of what the government is up to all the time. We think that government can benefit from the efficiencies that the digital economy provides.
“So, we are at a point where we are also looking at how to revolutionize government businesses so that we can do more in terms of business with the ordinary citizens, give more information, do more transactions, get passports and licenses and approvals online and that kind of thing,” he added.
Mr Jack Ma, while speaking, said his company was working on promoting technological innovation in the areas of E-infrastructure, Entrepreneurship, E-governance and Education in Nigeria and other African countries.
Mr Ma said four Nigerian technology entrepreneurs are among top 10 African entrepreneurs to be supported by AliBaba Group.
He said his personal target was to visit and support countries in Africa in 10 years, describing Nigeria as a great country with a large population, strong economy, excellent young people with excellent innovations.
“This is just the beginning. Our job is to support entrepreneurs. Everyone in the delegation, we are all founders of our own businesses in China. We think what we have experienced in China can help Africa entrepreneurs develop, support e-infrastructure, e-governance, e-entrepreneurs and e-education and this is what we came here for. We will love to have advice and know government’s direction so that we can do a better job,” he added.