Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Youths employment: ICT needs N150bn – Ekeh

Chairman, Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, has urged the federal government to manage corporate crisis and fund innovations if the nation is to come out of the current recession stronger, saying that with N150 billion, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector can employ about 4 million youths in three years.

Speaking to Nigerian consultants and IT professionals in the diaspora while reviewing the economy at the weekend, he said that the economic meltdown has made it mandatory for government to develop sharper reflexes to nip corporate conflicts in the bud.

Mr. Ekeh urged the government of President Musa Yar’Adua to deliberately encourage the consumption of world-class products produced in the country, noting that it has not made a clear statement on the need to patronize Nigerian products.

“It is demand that creates supply in a restive economy like ours,” he said, maintaining that ICT sector will absorb 4 million unemployed youths with just N150b spent over a period of three (3) years.

Ekeh also cautioned on the growing personality ‘wars’ in the corporate Nigeria, where envy and greed are set to destroy indigenous conglomerates, stressing that it has become a standard that a loser in a competitive deal does everything humanly possible to destroy a viable indigenous enterprise but no one complains if such deals are won by foreign companies.

This, he said, has been the trend in the financial sector and is gradually creeping into other sectors of the economy.

The Zinox boss expressed dismay at such unchecked bickering, which he said, have been widely reported in the media, because they could turn foreign investors away.

“We must guard against the gradual self destruction of corporate Nigeria mostly now that the local banks cannot support local entrepreneurs, who are the major employers of workers in a recession, but now have to depend on foreign banks for funding,” he said.

Ekeh reminded the government of the need to have a clear industrial policy by encouraging the setting up of industrial clusters with reasonable provisional infrastructure like power, good roads, and water until such a time the nation perfects her infrastructure development programme.

He argued that the manufacturing sector cannot wait for December when the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) promised to deliver 6,000 megawatts, pointing out that the government should put short term measures in place to encourage job creation.

Government, he equally said, should identify and strategically invest on globally acclaimed fast growing sectors like the movie, IT and Telecom sectors where Nigerians could lead in Africa and globally.

The need, he said, has arisen to re-define privatization within the context of Nigeria’s development needs, emphasizing that the global economic crisis has seen nations and regions jostling for survival by adopting policies and strategies that would diversify and grow their economies.

Today governments, he said, are not satisfied to be spectators; they are active participants in the industrial development of modern economies, stressing that government could invest in the establishment of a factory that produces semiconductors, and chips foundry.

Such an investment, he said, would greatly catalyze the manufacturing of PCs, memory chips, LCD panels and other electronics.

Replying on behalf of his group, Mr. Thomas Lannenna praised IT professionals in Nigeria for being creative and productive under such difficult circumstances, adding that his team is greatly encouraged by the resilience of people like the Zinox chairman.

Mr. Lannenna also said that he would be prepared to work with other professionals to place Nigeria in front of other African states.

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