A group of panellists and Softcom Limited have called on the Nigerian Government to utilise technology to enable the country deliver on all her Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in record time amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The panellists gave the charge on Saturday during a virtual event themed: “Achieving Sustainable Development in Nigeria: Leveraging Technology,” which was hosted by Softcom Limited, an indigenous and innovative technology company.
The Continental reports that the online event had in attendance the Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire; UNICEF’s Judith Giwa Amu; The World Bank’s Ubah Thomas Ubah, and UNDP’s Amarakoon Bandara, including other notable individuals in the Development sector and over 300 virtual participants.
The panellists 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.
Speaking at the virtual event, Princess Adefulire 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 his remark, Omoseindemi Olobayo, the Chief Operating Officer, Softcom Limited said: “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.”
He added: “attendees got the opportunity to explore existing technological innovation and solutions that can help to fast-track the achievement of Nigeria’s SDGs.”
Other issues discussed at the event involve 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.
It also includes 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.
Reacting 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, Dr. Amarakoon Bandara, Senior Economic Advisor and Head of Strategic Policy & Inclusive Growth Unit at The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nigeria, said: “Nigeria already has a system in place to directly transfer money to mobile wallets.
“The national social registry has a very comprehensive database which allows us to identify beneficiaries. This also allows us to identify sectors as well as their professions such as farmers, MSMEs and SMEs.”
He further noted: “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.”
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.”
Amidst the global impact of COVID-19 on all spheres of life, Softcom in a statement said “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.”