Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time," said multi-billionaire Microsoft co-founder, CEO and author Bill Gates. In recent years, thought leaders such as Gates, multinational companies and governments across the world have realised how vitally important innovation is to the development of economies. Yesterday, GE made a massive commitment to skills development and job creation in Nigeria with the launch of a permanent installation of the Lagos Garage, which is a hub for training, strategy development, advanced manufacturing-based innovation and collaboration.
GE developed the garages programme in the United States in 2012 to reinvigorate Americans' interest in innovation and manufacturing. The first international garages training session took place in Lagos in 2014 and it was so popular that GE ran another programme in Lagos in October this year. Now, the Lagos Garage has its own space and will be offering a year-round series of skills training programmes focused on building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs.
"Innovation and technology are fundamental for Africa to better compete in a global framework, but innovation needs to be tailored to the specificities of local needs," said GE Nigeria President and CEO, Dr Lazarus Angbazo, who added that GE was pleased to encourage innovation in Nigeria by supporting Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) development through skills-building initiatives such as these.
The Lagos Garage will run a mix of training programmes, which will focus on specific industry sectors as well as entrepreneurship segments that will provide mentoring for start-ups and will place emphasis on creating scalable, global-standard businesses that could become a part of the GE supply chain. Participants will also be trained to use advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printers, computer numerical counting mills and laser cutters in the first fabrication laboratory in Nigeria.
By assisting with the support and development of manufacturing in the country, GE hopes to stimulate the economy, create jobs, build local knowledge and capability as well as encourage digital innovation in the manufacturing sector.
"GE is proud to launch the Lagos Garage, a hub that is dedicated to accelerating the impact of some of Nigeria's most promising entrepreneurs. We have set up a learning environment that is different to the traditional, and we are combining the classroom and the real world by providing hands-on training in advanced manufacturing," said Patricia Obozuwa, GE Africa Director of Communications and Public Affairs.
"We're looking forward to seeing great ideas that come to the GE Lagos Garage being transformed into practical business models that ultimately create more jobs in Nigeria," said Obozuwa.
According to the World Bank, 600-million jobs are needed to accommodate the growing global workforce in the next 15 years and most formal jobs in emerging markets, such as Africa's, will be created by SMEs. For this reason, GE is committed to creating environments that encourage innovation and support the entrepreneurs that are so vital to the global economy.
This article first appeared on GE Reports Sub-Saharan Africa