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Edo State strategize to become South-South’ Silicon Valley

Technology’s experts have tipped Edo State to become the heart of the digital revolution in South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria, even as the state government has set the machinery in motion to position the state to become the go-to place for digital solutions in the Niger Delta region and its environs.

This projection was made at the weekend by a cross-section of watchers of digital trends in south-south Nigeria.

According to the group, the presence of the South-South Innovation Hub in Benin City, at the Edo Innovation Hub, the state is well positioned to attract the best of hands and minds from the region, as the digital revolution sweeps through Nigeria.

Since inception, the Edo Innovation Hub, has trained more than 800 entrepreneurs and experts, including 200 females trained by Microsoft and Tech4Dev; 49 budding app developers, who participated in Curators University’s Artificial Intelligence boot camp; 23 developers were trained by Hotels.NG on coding and applications (apps) development.

Other partners in the hub include Makers Academy, who trained 40 students on robotics; Pan Atlantic University’s Enterprise Development Centre, trained 59 entrepreneurs on entrepreneurship and innovation;

Siemens, Impact Hub conducted pre-hackathon orientation for 25 aspiring entrepreneurs in the power sector while Microsoft took 50 teachers through Basic Digital Literacy, among a host of other trainings.

One of the experts, who spoke on anonymity, said that Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration has demonstrated its desire to achieve this objective with aggressive push to build the capacity of residents to lead the digital revolution.

“If you check developments across the region, you will see private individuals organising pockets of developers to work from small offices, but in Edo State, the government is leading the charge, opening up space for young people to learn new skills and take advantage of the digital economy. It will become the Silicon Valley in the South-South,” one of the experts said on anonymity.

He added that the location of the South-South Innovation Hub in Edo State as against other states in the region goes to show that the state is well disposed to promoting the tech industry.

Another expert, who works in one of the incubation and acceleration hubs in the region, who pleaded anonymity, ranked Edo State government high in terms of support provided to tech-focused innovators, arguing that if other states paid such attention to tech, the region would be better for it.

Meanwhile, residents of Edo State have applauded Governor Obaseki’s approval for the deployment of tech-based revenue collection scheme to automate and boost Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the state.

The residents including traders, commercial vehicle operators, business owners, among others, who spoke to journalists said that the use of technology-based revenue collection scheme will ease payment of taxes, levies and other charges paid to the government.

The Chairman, Edo Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Igbinidu Inneh recently said that the technology-driven scheme will automate revenue collection process from data capture, profiling, assessment generation and notification to cashless settlement,

adding it will make way for deployment of persons to serve as distributors, sub-distributors, retailers, and enumerators across the 192 wards in the state. It is expected to create 5,000 jobs within the state.

A commercial vehicle operator in Benin City, Edo State capital, Ikponmwosa Daniel said the state government’s decision to automate revenue collection was a smart move, adding, “if I can use a card to pay my daily levies automatically, that will help a lot.”

Christian Okojie, a commercial vehicle operator who plies Benin-Auchi route, said, “Our governor has continued to bring appreciable changes in how things are done in the state. This technology-based revenue collection system will put a stop to multiple taxation.”

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