The Chairman, Senate Committee on Industries and the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District in the Upper Legislative Chamber, Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, has charged young digital technology enthusiasts to develop solutions to myriad of challenges confronting the society.
Gen Z Hackfest is an annual conference that connects youngsters who belong to generation Z in tech space on a large scale. The well-attended event affords ambitious Gen Z techies to come together and put their creative and coding skills to test, building solutions to problems of Africa.
The event that was held on Monday at the Zone Tech Park, Gbagada Lagos attracted hundreds of young people from Lagos East Senatorial District and outside Lagos, the statement released by Senator Tokunbo Abiru’s media aide, Mr Enitan Olukotun has revealed.
Abiru, whose Innovation Lab, Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL) was the title sponsor of the Gen Z Hackfest 2022 said his passion for human capital and capacity development of young people informed the establishment of SAIL, a dedicated innovation hub set up for young people and entrepreneurs in Lagos East Senatorial District.
He said, “I recall the first encounter I had with some prominent members of this community, Eniola Osabiya, Jolaoluwa Olatunji (who is a participant in the STEM programme) and their friends at the Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL) facility in Ikorodu Lagos.
“Sincerely, I was captivated by the audacious boldness of the young guys while pitching their big plans and how they planned to alter the course of history positively. I was forced to enquire about the age of Eniola. ‘I am just 17 years old’, the young tech genius answered. He continued, ‘ I am presently working for a tech firm in Austria. I work remotely from home in Nigeria’.
“That special encounter reinforced and re-validated my team’s prognosis on the rationale for SAIL and the choice of pilot programmes, especially Tech Talent Development and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) cafe for Senior Secondary School students.
‘I saw in practical terms how the digital and tech skills can open mouth-watering global opportunities for young people amidst the hue and cry of lack of job openings in Nigeria. More interesting is the fact that college degrees are not essentially a requirement to get hired by these tech services-related firms. The world is now skill-driven. It is what you can do other than certifications.
“Eniola’s story is not entirely different from the inspiring viral story of John Oseni, an eminent member of the GENZ Techies community. The 16-year-old Akure born programmer shared a story of how he had worked for about 17 start-ups with networks across the globe including the United States of America, Canada and others.
“So, my desire to see more success stories like that of Eniola and John and many other teenagers who are making waves in the tech space made me set up the SAIL using my Foundation, Tokunbo Abiru Constituency Team (TACT) Foundation in partnership with a renowned tech firm, Co-creation Hub (Cc-Hub). The first of its kind innovation hub in the Lagos East Senatorial District is a dedicated innovation and tech lab that is providing relevant technology, business and digital skills to tech enthusiasts and young entrepreneurs.
“Your generation, Gen Z, who are between the ages of 9 and 24 is the greatest beneficiary of the digital revolution that is shaping the world today. Not even the Millennials you are succeeding had the opportunities before you.
“Your generation is making huge exploits in the world in the tech space. We have seen how young folks like you are creating devices, solutions that will make the world a better place”.
The Lawmaker, fondly called #DoingGood Senator told the young people how he has been making efforts to ensure that their aspirations and dreams thrive. He said he has sponsored 13 bills and co-sponsored another three bills adding that, “two of the bills are of particular interest to young tech enthusiasts like you and entrepreneurs. These bills are: Copyright bill 2021 (Repeal and Re-enactment) which has gone through first and second readings, public hearing and third reading and has been passed in the Senate. The second bill is the Franchise Regulation Bill 2022 which has gone through first and second readings and is now awaiting public hearing”.
He continued, “Likewise, I have thrown my full weight behind the Start-up bill that is currently before the Senate. I can assure that the 9th Senate led by His Excellency, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President of the Senate is committed to laws that will create an enabling environment for ideas and innovations of young people to thrive.
On the permanent site of SAIL, Abiru said the purposely built facility that will cater for a minimum of 500 to 800 people every year with the complementary of online learning will be ready before the end of August.
According to him, the facility has a 30-man co-working space and also supports youth in the neighbourhood with free power, internet and other facilities as they create their own story within the tech ecosystem.
The participants at the conference went into a frenzy when Senator Abiru entered the hall. They applauded him for the support and exceptional leadership he has been providing for young people not only in Lagos East but beyond.
The Senator engaged the budding young tech entrepreneurs and key members of the GenZ Techies community, including John Oseni , CEO Ulterex , Pleasant Balogun, CEO Zeddpay, Ibrahim Opeyemi Salami, CEO Devtranet, Favour Chukwuedo , Programme Manager, Find Worka among others.
Also in attendance at the event were over 50 participants of SAIL Tech Talent and STEM classes. They were led to the event by the SAIL HUB Manager, Mr Deji Abisola.