One of Nigeria’s commercial banks, Wema Bank, is inviting tech talents across Nigeria to pitch their ideas and get cash rewards through its hackathon initiative tagged ‘hackaholics 4.0’.

According to the bank, the initiative is aimed at building a pool of tech talents for Nigeria and encouraging innovation among Nigerian youths.

The hackathon, which is also open to young tech startups across Nigeria will be rewarding the three best innovative ideas with N3 million, N2.5 million, and 1.5 million. The company said it will also specially recognize and give N1 million to any outstanding female-led startup.

Grooming tech talents: Speaking on the objectives at a press conference to announce the 4th edition of the hackathon, Wema Bank’s Executive Director, Digital Services, Tunde Mabawonku, said:

  • “We have been doing this over the past 4 years and in that period we have been able to bring in over 200 sharp guys to come and code and give us options and solutions for the future. We are doing this because we want to continue to groom tech talents not just for the current needs of the economy but also for the next generation.”
  • “What we are saying is that you don’t have to wait until you finish university or finish your Master’s before you can start using your tech skills. We are using our platform to bring young tech talents on board. For anybody that has an idea, the platform of ALAT is there for you to come and test your ideas and bring it to fruition. So, slowly, we are not just impacting society, we are targeting the young guys and using their ideas to benefit the economy.”

The hackathon: Hackaholics 4.0 is focused on building finance beyond technology and will be looking for entries with innovative solutions around CivicTech, GovTech, HealthTech, and EntertainmentTech, among others.

  • Mabawonku said that the bank, through the project, would be engaging 10, 000 tech entrepreneurs, producing 5000 solutions, creating 6 pitch centers, and having almost one million footfalls during the course of the campaign.
  • Also speaking at the conference, the Chief Transformation Officer of the bank, Babatunde Mumini, said the Hackaholics program began in 2019 and its scope and reach had since been expanded.
  • Mumini said the bank has been involved in creating solutions that solve society’s problems, just as it is leveraging the skills of young people to drive innovation.

Bridging tech talent gap in Nigeria: The Wema Bank’s initiative, if sustained, will help the country in bridging the current tech talent gaps and cushion the impacts of recent exits of tech talents from Nigeria. According to a recent report by SAP Africa, many organisations in Nigeria are currently struggling to get suitable candidates with the right tech skills.

  • The research report which looked at the state of tech skills in Africa, showed that all (100%) Nigerian companies surveyed said they had suffered a negative impact due to a lack of tech skills, compared to 60% in Kenya and 78% in South Africa.
  •  According to the ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed’ report 4 in 5 organisations surveyed reported some negative effect from a lack of tech skills, with 41% reporting that employees are leaving due to the pressures they experience as a result of understaffing.
  •  Other consequences include not being able to meet client needs (reported by 46%), reduced capacity for innovation (53%), and losing customers to competitors (60%).