The federal government said on Friday it
was considering a partnership with
Facebook towards improved ICT
connectivity in Africa.
Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo,​also said
government was determined to ensure the
country was built on the energy,
innovation and creativity of its young
people.
He was speaking at the grand finale of the
Aso Villa Demo Day, an entrepreneurship
development event sponsored by Sahara
Group in collaboration with government,
to celebrate creativity, innovation and
entrepreneurship with focus on economic
diversification, inclusive enterprise by
young Nigerians.
“We are looking forward to cooperating
with Facebook. In a couple of month, we
would be working out ways we would
cooperate, especially with connectivity
and some of the great ideas Mark has to
improve connectivity in Africa,” he said.
Mr. Osinbajo was responding to
comments by Facebook founder, Mark
Zuckerberg, who was special guest at the
event to present three of the 30 winners
who emerged from the event to pitch the
most innovative ideas.
Mr. Zuckerberg, who said he was inspired
by the ideas by the young Nigerians,
expressed believe in them, saying he was
looking forward to seeing how they would
impact Nigeria and the world.
“This has really blown me away by the
talent of the entrepreneurs and young
developers in this country, particularly by
the focus to build something that’s going
to make a difference and bring change,”
Mr. Zuckerberg said.
He said the ideas reminded him of when
Facebook began, saying he did not set
out to establish a company, but to build a
something he wanted to see impact the
world.
“That’s what I see people here doing;
pushing through challenges, building
things you want to see impact the world;
things that would make a country great,”
Mr. Zukerberg said.
“This is not going to be better for Nigeria
and Africa alone, but the whole world. I
am blown away by what you are doing. I
believe in you. I’m looking forward to see
what you do
.​”
The Vice President said what the
Facebook Founder demonstrated was to
show “it’s possible not only to make
one’s dream come true, but live it so
fabulously to not only influence his
environment, but the whole world.”
“One of the things you have done is to
create connectivity across the world, for
people to really be able to interact across
tribes, races and countries, and feel as
one family,” he told Mr. Zuckerberg.
He said Mr. Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria
was energizing not just the young people,
but everyone else, saying Nigeria would
rely on its young people to build the
country.
“Today, technology has created a level
playing field. Technology has made it
possible for everyone to sit somewhere in
their little office or room to create wealth,
create connectivity and all manner of
things across the world,” he noted.
“It’s a new day. There’s so much hope.
And so much the young generation are
going to do. I am looking forward to be a
part of that. I am looking forward to
working with you as part of the
government of Nigeria to ensure that all
our plans, talents and abilities are put to
the best possible use. We will support you
all the way,” the Vice President said
Sahara Group Chief Executive, Tonye
Cole, said the decision to sponsor the
event was informed by the passion to
invest in Nigeria’s future, through the
youth of today.
“The future is digital and about
technology. If we are going to become
sustainable, and move from this
generation to the next, we must
understand what the next generation is all
about. A lot of Nigeria’s problems today
can be solved through technical solutions
sourced locally from the young talents.
He said if the young generations were
empowered to think about those solutions
now, they could achieve those objectives
using technology.
Mr. Cole said the three winners, whose
ideas were showcased at the event, would
be guaranteed funding support by Sahara
Group for their development.
He also assured the others to enjoy
mentorship and guidance counselling
through the Sahara Group’s
extrapreneurship platform, which would
match them with other people interested
in their ideas and expertise.
Each of the winners, namely Tracology, a
patented smart payment systems for
utility companies; RecyclePoints, a waste
recycling and social benefit venture for
sustainable development, and Shuttlers, a
multi-staff bus service to assist
commuters resolve daily challenges
around big cities, was given N3 million
grant to develop their ideas.

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