By E.I Ihegwuruike

Google has launch its Digital Skills for Africa Programme for manufacturers of all kinds of products in Aba, the commercial hub of the South Eastern Nigeria. 

The launching which took place at the Eldora do event centre in Aba attracted the presence of Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Google Africa Lead, Public Policy, Government Affairs, Seember Nyager, the Head, Brand and Reputation, Sub-Saharan Africa at Google, Mrs Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde.

Others present at the occasion includes, the President, Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture(ACCIMA), Chief Andy Ubah Obasi, heads of different manufacturing associations, corps members and the Aba business Community.

From Left: Seember Nyager, Barr. Chris Ezem, Chinenye Nwaogu, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde and Chief Andy Ubah Obasi

Google Africa Lead, Public Policy, Government Affairs, Seember Nyager while speaking during the launching said that what Google is doing is taking businesses to the next level in Aba.

According to her, the Google Digital Skills for Africa programme offers training that will help to make sure there is sustained support for manufacturers in Aba to expand the works that they are doing.

“We come specifically to launch the Digital Skills, Aba Community here with you all. Aba is really an interesting place where we have been investing in a lot of training because we know that there’s really a lot of opportunity here. 

“And what we are doing today is taking this to the next level. Making sure that we can have sustained support for manufacturers in Aba to expand the works that they’re doing. 

“And we understand that it’s really critical to have government on-board in everything we are doing. We are private sector organization, but we believe strongly in strategic partnerships with government to make things sustainable and to make the land flourish and even more than it’s doing now. 

“So, that’s why we are here today and we are pleased to be launching this. We know that the Digital Skills Programme will open up opportunities, skills and it will expand the horizon for several of the manufacturers  who are in Aba. 

“Everyone already knows about Aba across the continent as long as you’re in the trading business. You know that things come from here, but we want to give people who may not even be on the map, a level playing field to let their businesses known, showcase the skills that they have and expand the horizons of their businesses.”

Adding her voice, the Head, Brand and Reputation, Sub-Saharan Africa at Google, Mrs Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde said the programme can help give access to opportunity to businesses and individuals most especially to find jobs and help businesses to grow.

“We truly believe that the internet is an enabler. And we truly believe that the internet can give access to opportunity to businesses and individuals and for individuals to find jobs and help businesses to grow. 

“This is part of our commitment to train 10 million Africans on Digital Skills. So far, we’ve trained over 3 million Africans on Digital Skills and over 50 percent of those are in Nigeria and we’ve learnt that a lot of are in Abia. 

“We really want to go deeper with this training. We are working with the manufacturing associations to help them take their goods from manufacturing locally to exposing them to other markets and put more money in their pockets. 

“We are not here for the short term. We are here for the long run. We are launching this in Aba today and we’ll be here over the next couple of months to help the manufacturers take advantage of the internet to be able to grow their businesses. 

“Our goal is that at the end of this, we’ll be able to record a number of success stories from the people that will tell us how they’ve made money and grow their businesses through the internet.”

Speaking at the launching, Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu said his administration has always shown keen interest in moving commercial activities in Aba to the next level and added that the presence of Google to make that happen is a welcomed development.

The Governor who was represented by Barrister Chris Ezem, Secretary to the State Government promised to give Google every support they need and urged them to establish digital base in strategic places in Aba, develop ICT policy for Abia State and establish internet services for government house and all tertiary institutions in Abia.

“We are happy to have you today in Aba. We all know that Aba is the hub of business activity in Nigeria and the commercial nerve centre of the entire country. Business starts and ends here in Aba. 

“This government has shown keen interest in moving commercial activities in Aba to the next level. That’s why this government is investing massively in infrastructural development in Aba. 

“The government is paying particular attention to the Enyimba Economic City (EEC), which has the capability to employ 700,000 Abians and other people outside Abia State. 

“Having known the commercial level of Abia and Aba in particular, this digital launch would not have come on a better time than this. Our manufacturers from the shoes, the garments and several other business facets in Aba will benefit from this Digital Skills. 

“It will keep their businesses online, expand their customer base and commercial activities. The change in the banking industry is what everyone should look at. You can sit down in your home and transfer money, make payments and negotiate business. 

“Every business is going digital. Technology is the way to go. Internet is the way to go and that is what Google team has brought to Aba to educate and train our people so that their businesses will get to the next level. 

“The Corp members who have come here today to witness this launch, you have a great deal to benefit. If those who are running these businesses cannot go digital, form yourselves into groups and help them to do it and thereby creating jobs for yourselves. 

“What we are doing today, will help you to become an entrepreneur not dependent on anyone, but by tapping from what the Google team have come here to do today, you can create jobs for yourselves here in Aba.”

ACCIMA President, Chief Andy Ubah Obasi said that the launching of the Google Digital Skills Programme in Aba was long overdue and a welcomed development.
 “What we had today is long overdue. From the business perspective and business community, for us it’s long overdue. 

“When we take cognizance of the what is coming up soon which is called the African Free Trade Zone, when you look at that, there’s an agreement that’s coming up and once that is done and if it’s actualized, the next thing that’s going to happen is the means and ways that you are going to showcase your goods and products. 

“Therefore, this Digital Skills that’s been launched today, is going to play a pivotal role to ensure that Aba, which has the highest concentration of SMEs in Nigeria if not in Africa is not left out. 

“The business community is so desirous to see this kickoff because we have been waiting for it. The governor has always been our Chief executive marketing officer which he has demonstrated in so many ways.”

Speaking on behalf of the Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers Abia State (ATFAD), the President, Comrade Onyebuchi Nwaigwe, said they are open to the training and welcome it with both hands.  

“The three main essentials of life are food, shelter and clothing. Among these three, one stands tall when it comes to human relations. 

“If I didn’t eat yesterday you may not know, where I slept yesterday may not be known by you all as well, but if I attempt coming out naked without clothing, everyone must know. 

“This tells you how important we are. We are doing our best, but we are lacking something. This is why we are happily welcome Google’s training programme. 

“We can stay in our offices and do business. We are proud that what we are producting can compete in the international market. We have a lot to offer to the world and thank God Google is now here to help.”



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