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From Generator To Umbrella Republic: Youth low productivity and missed opportunities, by Freedom Chimereze


From Generator To Umbrella Republic: Youth low productivity and missed opportunities, by Freedom Chimereze

In the ever busy streets of Nigeria, where umbrellas shield against the sun’s heat, a ubiquitous sight awaits; young people huddle under makeshift shelters, clutching Point of Sale (PoS) machines. Their intent? To eke out a living, one transaction at a time. But is this the path to prosperity?

The surge in Point of Sale (PoS) machines across Nigeria is nothing short of remarkable. According to the latest data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the number of PoS terminals reached an astounding 2.7 million in March 2024, reflecting a 50% increase from the 1.8 million recorded the previous year. This jump translates to the deployment of 864,753 new terminals in just one year.

This proliferation indicates a vivacious cash-based economy, but, beneath this veneer lies a troubling trend; young, energetic Nigerians, full of potential, are spending their days under umbrellas, operating PoS machines.

The irony is stark: our youth, the supposed vanguards of innovation and progress, are being drawn into low-productivity roles that offer little room for personal or professional growth. This trend, driven by a quest for immediate cash, points to a deeper issue of low productivity and missed opportunities.

It is disheartening, especially in light of the federal government’s 3 Million Technical Talents (3MTT) programme championed by Dr. Bosun Tijani, Minister of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy, which aims to shape Nigeria’s digital workforce.

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Inspired by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision of creating 3 million digital jobs by 2025, it selects individuals with a hunger for specific technical skill, fund their training, and connects them with decent jobs.

The programme started in 2023 with 30,000 participants in its first cohort, and has now expanded to welcome 270,000 more in its second cohort, thereby reaching only 10% of the ambitious goal. Despite these promising opportunities, the uptake remains alarmingly far below expectations.

The question then arises: why are so many young people opting for PoS machines over the potentially transformative 3MTT programme?

The answer lies in the allure of immediate, albeit modest, cash over the long-term benefits of digital skills and sustainable income. Operating a PoS machine offers quick returns but it is a path mired in stagnation, offering little room for growth or advancement.

In contrast, the 3MTT programme equips youths with high-demand digital skills, paving the way for sustainable income and career progression. The global economy increasingly values technical expertise, and the digital sector offers a plethora of opportunities for those willing to invest time and effort.

Why Embrace the 3MTT Path?

It’s not just about surviving; it’s about thriving. The 3MTT programme offers a palette of opportunity. It equips youths with skills that transcend PoS transactions, skills that empower you to thrive in the local and global talent marketplace.

Imagine that you no longer hustle under the shadow of umbrellas, but stand tall, wielding digital power to create, innovate, and contribute to a talent-powered future. Your income isn’t fleeting; it’s sustainable. Your skills aren’t mere transactions; they’re high-value assets.

That’s the transformative offer of the 3MTT programme.

So, dear youths, lift your heads from the PoS screen. Let us build, not just a cash-driven present, but a talent-powered future. Embrace the 3MTT path—a path that leads from low-productivity to mastery, where your talent shines and your digital skills flourish.

Freedom Chimereze writes from Okpogho, Nigeria.

Proofreading by Gift Luckson, Editor at Neptune Prime.

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