…INITIATIVE TO ENHANCE NIGERIA’S FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNINGS
On the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Bola Tinubu at the weekend launched the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP) in a bid to shore up Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.
President Tinubu was represented at the launch by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite.
The new initiative seeks to position Nigeria as an export hub for talent outsourcing in Africa following the example of India, Bangladesh, Mexico and The Philippines.
The unveiling of the programme took place at the Microsoft Office in New York, United States of America, on Friday, September 22, 2023.
A number of dignitaries from multilateral institutions and global tech giants joined the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment and her counterpart from the Ministry of Communications Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, on the occasion.
Among those who attended were Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, Mr. John G. Coumantaros, Chairman, US-Nigeria Business Council, Dr. Floriezelle Liser, President and Chief Executive, Corporate Council on Africa, Amal Hassan, Chief Executive, Outsource Global, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Adaora Ikenze, Meta Head of Public Policy for West and Central Africa, Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, who joined online, Joel Ogunsola, Chief Executive, TechDev, and Dr. Femi Adeluyi, National Coordinator of the programme.
Also present were Ursula Wynhoven, Representative of the International Telecommunication Union at the United Nations, Dr. Armstrong Takang, Chief Executive of Ministry of Finance Incorporated, Mr. Charles Murito, Director, Sub Saharan Africa – Government Affairs & Public Policy, Google, Mr. Charles Okochu, Senior Business Development Manager, Amazon AWS, and Michelle Masuzyo Nsanzumuco, AfCFTA Digital Trade Expert.
In her welcome address on behalf of President Tinubu, Dr. Uzoka-Anite noted that the National Talent Export Programme is a key national initiative that will serve as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service exports, talent sourcing and talent exports.
According to the Minister, NATEP will serve as a dedicated entity to address the unique needs and challenges faced by the talent and service export industry.
The programme will lay special emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth through trade in services.
The minister further noted that NATEP is part of the strategy towards achieving President Tinubu’s agenda for job creation.
The NATEP initiative will target the creation of 1 million in-demand jobs across Nigeria, over a 5-year period.
“This initiative will do three things for us as a country. One, it will create millions of jobs for our young people over the next 5 years and beyond. Secondly, it will bring in foreign exchange that our economy needs through remittances from talents that will be exported abroad and those that will be living in Nigeria and working remotely for organisations outside Nigeria and thirdly, it will generate huge tax income for state governments,” the minister said.
In her goodwill message, the Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, Saadia Zahidi, said NATEP is a timely initiative to address the very important areas of skills and jobs for Nigeria and the world.
She stated that the WEF looks forward to partnering with Nigeria on the programme.
“This is an important programme that is coming at the right time. We at WEF stand ready to work with the Nigerian government on this great initiative.”
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, who praised her counterpart for spearheading the NATEP initiative, said his ministry would collaborate and support the programme to ensure it delivers on the set objectives.
Dr. Tijani explained the importance of talents and in-demand workforce as critical part of the global economic structure, saying such is the reason why leading countries across the world are intentional about attracting and retaining top talents.
Other speakers at the event also acknowledged how auspicious and ambitious NATEP is as a national initiative capable of changing the economic fortunes of Nigeria just like India that attracts over $300 billion annually from talents export. The speakers commended the Federal Government on the laudable initiative and gave their commitment towards supporting the programme.
A panel discussion that took place during the event was moderated by the National Coordinator of NATEP, with Amal Hassan, Ola Williams and Adaora Ikenze serving as panelists.
The panel discussion attracted a lot of positive feedback from the participants and elicited their commitment to working together to support the NATEP initiative.
The event ended with the unveiling of the NATEP logo with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment indicating to the world that Nigeria is ready to become a global hub for talent exports.