Financial Services Innovators has called on the Nigerian government to embrace the language of technology to unite its citizens.
The Executive Director, FSI, Mrs Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, made the call at this year’s FSI and Nigeria Association of Computing Students’ Innovative Challenge, tagged ‘#TechonDemand’, hackathon, a statement on Monday by FSI read.
“Technology’s language is neutral and can become a force to unite Nigerians,” Kola-Oladejo said. “Government support and that of industry leaders in the private sector are highly desirable to promote innovation in our communities, particularly among the youths whose huge potential is yet to be fully harnessed.
“Our cause, the Campus Ambassadors Programme, launched with the TechonDemand hackathon, is one that speaks to nation-building. Through collaboration, we would achieve digital, financial, social and economic inclusion.”
FSI is a shared infrastructure for the financial services industry to foster innovation and support startups.
The FSI and NACOS challenge, held virtually from October 1 to 9, and physically from October 12 to 14, 2021, was organised to provide solutions in the digitisation of key sectors.
“The hackathon was focused on four key sectors, which were financial services, health, transportation and education sectors fraught with challenges of cash dominance, inefficient processes and inclusion.
“The students were to create innovative solutions to solve these problems within their suburban communities. This, in itself, helps to create an innovative mindset in students as well as foster an innovative culture on campuses. It also aligns with our goal to raise responsible leaders and democratise innovation,” Kola-Oladejo added.
According to her, FSI commenced the tech talent chase with the innovative challenge in collaboration with NACOS.
“This is one of our Campus Ambassadors initiatives to prepare students for the challenges ahead,” she hinted.
With the rate of unemployment in the country, Kola-Oladejo said the reality implies no white-collar jobs for Nigerian graduates joining the labour market yearly.
“To change this narrative, FSI commenced an initiative that will help the youth create jobs for themselves, instead of waiting endlessly for non-existent ones. We decided to intentionally create a pipeline of tech talents that will either be employable by the financial services sector to address the skill gap, given the recent brain drain and mass exodus of Nigerian talents to the western world or talents transiting to become tech entrepreneurs.
“We received tremendous support from the Nigeria Inter- Bank Settlement System, Wema Banķ, Sterling Bank, Flutterwave, Capricorn Digital, Techcabal, Future Africa and AXA Mansard,” she noted.
Stakeholders, who made presentations at the three-day event, reiterated the need for investment in infrastructure and human capital development, as well as the promotion of indigenous contents in the Information and Communications Technology sector to boost Nigeria’s economy, thereby supporting Kola-Oladejo’s call.
“We [have] realised that our greatest assets are our people. You do not need to start thinking of jobs after graduation. For you, the computer students, this is an opportunity to key into this,” the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Abdullahi, said.
Assistant Director, Central Bank of Nigeria/Head of the Digital Financial Services Unit, National Financial Inclusion Secretariat, Stephen Ambore, who was one of the judges for the challenge, said, “The TechonDemand hackathon is an excellent example of how to effectively bridge this gap” of harnessing talents in providing solutions to real world problems, which is a bit challenging.
“This platform provided by FSI has gone a long way in harnessing talents to address pressing problems in the Nigerian economy.
Wakanda, AAU and STEMInnovators teams emerged the top three winners of the competition and were awarded N1m, N500,000 and N300,000 prize money respectively. Also, FutureTrek, The Bells Team, Start Vest, GodHands, Halal Invest, Team KPT and Adashi, who took 4th to 10th positions, also got a consolation prize of N100,000 each.
Team Wakanda presented a DigiPay, a USSD-based payments collection system, to clinch the star prize, labelling the solution as a collection system that can allow merchants and associations in higher institutions to collect electronic payments from customers and members.
“The solution will enable the collection of payments for goods sold online, in physical stores or via social media, as well as for the collection of payments for associations in higher institutions,” the team added.
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