Some tech experts have questioned data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showing the insurgency-infested North-East of Nigeria has the most certified information technology (IT) professionals in the country.
According to the dataset, the geopolitical region has 25.90 percent of certified IT professionals. This puts it ahead of the other geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
The questioning is based on the notion that the Northern part of the country which has the lowest education literacy rate cannot have a higher IT literacy or computer proficiency rate.
An IT certification demonstrates a professional’s competency in a certain aspect of technology. It means that professionals can conduct research, plan, and design, write, and test, provide advice and improve information technology systems, hardware, software, and related concepts for specific applications.
“I don’t think that data is correct. Although there is a lot of youth in the North getting into ICT, the percentage of them is not even more than or even a quarter of the percentage of NBS’s certified IT professionals,” Jos based- Ahmed Luka, a tech inventor and innovator.
Similarly, Yemi Orimolade, the founder at Tellit.NG, a strategic communication technology-driven organization noted that if the North-East region has that highest percentage, why is it that innovations are not driven in there. “Where are the enablers, innovation hubs, and C0-creation spaces?”
The report, a collaborative effort between the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) and the NBS was surveyed across the six geo-political zones of the federation.
Four replicates representing 40 Enumeration Areas (EAs) were selected in each of the reporting domains within the zone using a systematic sample selection procedure.
The selection of the ultimate sampling units – the households and the eligible respondents between the ages of 15-35 years were randomly and systematically carried out using the “Kish” Method of Sample selection (a way of randomly choosing household survey respondents).
However, 15 households were selected per EA. In each of the households, the “Kish” Sample selection method was adopted to select the eligible respondents within each household. A maximum of two eligible respondents was selected in each household.
A breakdown of the report shows that out of a total of 23.4 million people surveyed; only 1.3 million are certified IT professionals. The 1.3 million youth who are certified IT professionals have specialised skills in areas like Artificial Intelligence(AL), database administration, graphics & design, multimedia, networking, software engineering, and web design & management.
A further breakdown of the 1.3 million shows that the North-east recorded the highest number of 326,704 (25.9 percent) followed by 306,041 (24.3 percent), 268,678 (21.3 percent), 127,120 (10.1 percent), 126,718 (10.1 percent), and 104,209 (8.3 percent) in South-South, North-West, South-East, North-Central, and South-West respectively.
“Most of the technology companies that bring their certifications to Nigeria bring it first to Lagos, and then Abuja and Port- Harcourt because those are where they have their branches. Apart from that, it is difficult to learn Al, or other specialized areas of IT except when you come to Lagos,” Kassy Olisakwe, an AI enthusiast said.
According to a recent Nigerian Digital Economy Diagnostic Report by the World Bank, the digital industry is concentrated in Lagos and Abuja, marking an important geographic and sectorial divide in the use of digital technologies.
“Lagos is a mature and active ecosystem with dynamic incubators, venture capital companies, and digital start-ups. Digital entrepreneurship ecosystems are also growing in Abuja and Port Harcourt, with a potential for expansion to other cities,” the report further stated.
For many years, there has been a huge gap in educational development between southern and northern Nigeria. Twenty seventeen NBS education data show that the states where the majority of people can neither read nor write are those in the Northeast, Northwest, and North-central.
“If we want to be sincere and fair, how many Northern tech experts have been able to drive foreign investments through tech,” Elijah Bello, a tech expert questioned.