Diamond Bank CEO, Uzoma Dozie, has hinged the sustainable growth and development of Africa’s economy, on the proper use of information technology (IT), saying that in this digital age, the massive deployment of IT tools, is a major panacea to the sluggish development on the continent. According to him, the internet, a major backbone of IT, has shrunken the world to a global business village, thereby altering the way businesses are transacted across continents; pointing that for African countries to catch up with the rest of the world, there is an urgent need to incorporate and optimize mobile technology in the respective countries daily economic activities.
Diamond Bank boss made this assertion at the Lagos Business School (LBS) Roundtable on “Leading by Empowering: Youth, Skills Training and Unemployment in a Changing Economy”, which held recently in Lagos. He stated that promoting regular and increased IT skills acquisition would not only act as an accelerant to sustainable industrial growth and development but will also ensure that there is sufficient supply of competent hands to match employers’ demands and a slope on the unemployment curve.
Drawing from his experience in online banking, Dozie stated that Nigeria’s financial services sub-sector has deployed and grown mobile technology to a level that most developed economies are yet to attain.
“Nigeria has one of the best payment systems in the world and this is enabled by our internet system which is one of the best in Africa. Over time, bank transactions have become easier compared to what they used to be in the time past and this is basically the result of improved internet banking in Nigeria. The implication of this growing trend is the increasing need for employable hands with requisite skills”.
He noted that there has been a paradigm shift that has made the acquisition of IT skills an imperative for business growth in Nigeria. According to him, the biggest problem for businesses in Nigeria is not capital, as there are many organizations out there with available funds for businesses, but lack of information on how to access these funds remains a big challenge.
“The knowledge of technology and how it works has become imperative for businesses to grow in Nigeria. However there is an erroneous assumption that lack of capital is the biggest problem that businesses, especially startup entrepreneurs face, whereas our findings show that lack of information and how to access this information which are in abundance on the internet is the real challenge. There are many organizations out there willing to give funds to startups but they have little or no knowledge of how and where to access those funds”.
One of the key messages that stood out during the CEO Roundtable was the need to emphasize skills acquisition in different sectors of the economy and de-emphasize paper qualifications that have little or no bearing on employability.
Reacting to this call for a shift from paper qualification to relevant and up-to-date employable skills, Diamond Bank CEO stated that one of the major recurring decimal, is the high number of educated but unskilled persons seeking for employment, and needs a lot of retraining to be useful in an organization.
“As a leading retail bank in Nigeria, our customer base comprises different categories of customers with a large chunk of whom are in the market place with little education and we have consistently discovered that reaching them with our services requires different kinds of skills which do not come from the four walls of a classroom.”
According to him, to deal with this challenge, Diamond Bank has been able to assist employees develop the requisite skills to enable them communicate with those target customers.
Other important factors identified by the panel during the CEO Roundtable session in developing and achieving competent manpower for the economy include, synergy among corporate organizations, taking the training and skills acquisition initiatives beyond the cities to the hinterlands, and bringing glamour into farming and teaching which employs a significant number of the labour force in the country.
The CEO Roundtable on Sustainability is an initiative of the Lagos Business School aimed at bringing CEOs from leading corporate organizations in Nigeria to share their insights on the different strategies they have introduced to empower Nigerian youths.