Softcom Limited, an indigenous and innovative technology company, has recommended the use of human-centred technology to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this COVID-19 era.
Omoseindemi Olobayo, Chief Operating Officer Softcom, stated this at a webinar on “Achieving Sustainable Development in Nigeria: Leveraging Technology”. hosted by softcom, over the weekend in Lagos.
The event had in attendance the Senior Special Adviser to The President on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, as the keynote speaker and other VIPs in the SDGs & Development sector such as UNICEF’s Judith Giwa Amu, The World Bank’s Ubah Thomas Ubah, and UNDP’s Amarakoon Bandara.
The event which had in attendance over 300 virtual participants explored contingency plans on surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and how new technologies can be used to mitigate the challenges of access, implementation and reach of development programmes.
Olobayo in his address said, “Attendees will get the opportunity to explore existing technological innovation and solutions that can help to fast-track the achievement of Nigeria’s SDGs. Softcom’s innovations are guided by our human centric beliefs and values.
“We are invested in inclusive solutions and the SDGs align with our goals. We are honoured to have hosted the webinar which offered unique insights on how to leverage technology to achieve sustainable development”.
Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, senior special adviser to The President on SDGs, said, “the SDGs cannot be achieved at the federal level alone, but requires participation from all stakeholders/state actors, which includes sub-national governments, local governments, NGOs, development partners etc. I thank Softcom, the conveners of this webinar, for hosting this important conversation.”
In a highly engaging panel discussion, the holistic impact of COVID-19 on the existing operations of organizations, the pandemic’s impact on education and learning systems in underdeveloped areas, expanding financial inclusion, livelihood programmes and food security, the need to deliver value to people in need and promote social inclusion through digital identities and how human-centred technology can influence delivery and efficiency for development programmes were critically examined and solutions preferred.
Dr. Amarakoon Bandara, Senior Economic Advisor and Head Of Strategic Policy & Inclusive Growth Unit at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nigeria, in response to a question on if the UNDP had identified any local solutions for cash transfers in Nigeria that can be scaled for use in other parts of the world, particularly Africa, said: “Nigeria already has a system in place to directly transfer money to mobile wallets. The national social registry has a very comprehensive data base which allows us to identify beneficiaries.
“This also allows us to identify sectors as well as their professions such as farmers, MSMEs and SMEs.
“I have seen a smart card system (like a debit card) in Zimbabwe which allows them to use it to purchase food items. That’s probably a better approach”, he concluded.
Also speaking after the event, Yemi Onagoruwa, VP Softcom Public Sector said, “the webinar served as a great opportunity to assemble some of the best minds in the developmental and humanitarian sectors to explore solutions that can help us make strides during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was an occasion to reimagine the current initiatives in ways that can propel us away from over-reliance on archaic techniques towards innovative modern technological systems.”
COVID-19 has had a devastating global impact on all spheres of life, industries and nations were shut down over night, not only disrupting the movement of people but global supply chains that are crucial to the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance.
This is a major downtime for the humanitarian and development sectors in Nigeria. There is a worldwide food, health, economic and social crises and COVID-19 can exacerbate the existing socio-economic burdens and double the number of people suffering by the end of 2020.
Softcom says these challenges don’t have to spell an end. If we lean on the energy and support that we have seen across all sectors, we can begin to realize that the crises create an opportunity for bold solutions that could help transition us from archaic methodologies to new possibilities.
In the light of this approach, it is possible to rise from this crisis with resilience – resilience and strength to not only thrive during future shock waves but also help us be better positioned to achieve future SDGs.