In continuation of its job-creation programmes, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has enlisted 350 youths, drawn from the 9 states covered by the commission, in a new scheme designed to create successful entrepreneurs using the mobile phone technology platform. The programme tagged NDDC Retail Empowerment App Programme, REAP, was launched on Wednesday in Port Harcourt at an event attended by many board members and directors of the commission.
The NDDC Managing Director, Sir(Barr) Bassey Dan-Abia, represented by the Executive Director, Projects, Engr. Tuoyo Omatsuli, said that REAP was an effort to support the various empowerment programmes of the Federal Government flowing from the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, the NDDC would continue to establish different schemes for the training and empowerment of the youths of the Niger Delta to ensure that they were gainfully engaged in meaningful and economically beneficial ventures. He stated that the REAP programme was a pilot scheme which would be sustained to engage many more beneficiaries in future.
In his welcome address, the NDDC Director of Youths, Sports, Culture and Women Affairs, Prince W. Alazigha, said that youths constitute a very important segment of the society, noting, however, that they were vulnerable because of unemployment challenges. He said that the NDDC had since inception mounted various skill acquisition programmes to train the youths of the Niger Delta.
Throwing more light on the new job creation platform, Barr. George Turnah, the Special Adviser to the NDDC MD on Youth, Sports, Culture and Women Affairs, said that REAP was a collaboration between the NDDC and the private sector to create successful entrepreneurs using technology. "It is a unique empowerment programme designed for women, under-employed graduates, physically challenged and youths to become successful entrepreneurs while taking advantage of business opportunities in the telecommunication sector," he said.
He further said that women were given preference in the programme because they form the bedrock of families He also noted that women were the strongest potential clients for financial institutions since they were said to have higher savings and loan repayment rates.
The consultant for the programme, Mr. Tayo Adigun, said that Nigeria's recharge card business generates over N3 billion daily but that it was being threatened by the emergence of mobile payments. He observed that the airtime retail business was experiencing a steady growth, although the platform may change significantly as the drive towards e-payment continued.
The beneficiaries were later presented with starter packs which included a mobile phone loaded with N50,000 worth of VTU credit; phone accessories such as power banks and memory cards; electricity generator; a business table with chair and an umbrella as well as N8,000 free credit.
One of the beneficiaries, Miss Queen Ekpo, a physically challenged young lady, said the starter packs given to them would enable them to earn a decent living. "I am happy that the NDDC has giving us the tools with which to fish and take care of ourselves and our families."