His story is a classic example of how to utilise the huge opportunities offered by the internet for learning, skill acquisition and business to overcome the increasing challenge of unemployment in Nigeria.
He is Temitope Bodurin, the Chief Executive Officer of CamelCase Technology, who dropped out from Lagos State Polytechnics to pursue a career in information technology through what he calls, ‘Internet University for Dummies’.
in this interview with TheNewsBeam, Bodurin shared insights from his adventure, advising youths, parents and the government to de-emphasise schooling and focus on education, skill acquisition and certification through the internet as a way of leveraging the opportunities offered by the digital era.
What inspired your adventure into the IT world?
Born in Lagos, I’m a Yoruba boy. I didn’t actually learn by the academic part. I finished secondary school since 2004. I tried to further my education, but it didn’t work the way I expected. I actually started in Lagos State Polytechnic (Laspotech), but somehow it wasn’t working, you know one has to pass this and pass that.
I realized that there are other ways one can attain knowledge outside the four walls of the school. I decided to learn IT on my own, it took me roughly 12 years to get to this standard. I run a tech company known as CamelCase Technology Limited.
To the glory of God, I have written a lot of solutions in the areas of Fintech and education. Mostly Fintech, right now, I manage Fintech and E-commerce. I build the whole of their solution in Aposasamura. I also work on a couple of e-commerce platforms.
What did you do differently ?
I learnt. You must be wondering what I mean by ‘I learnt’. There is difference between education and schooling. What we do here (in Nigeria) is schooling not education. Education is learning how to solve problems while schooling is learning to get a degree.
Some people will tell you ‘I have BSc,’ ‘I have Masters,’ but they are not problem- solvers. They just have the degree.
I learnt how to use computers, I learnt programming language, I learn advance programming, then I learnt business. I learnt from the best, I learn from masters, I learn from international figures, I learn from every source I know. People always ask me where I graduated from, I tell them I graduated from the Internet University for Dummies.
Because, practically everything you want to learn is all over the internet you just have to ask the right questions.
Do you see IT as a solution to unemployment in Nigeria?
It will reduce unemployment not in the area of getting jobs but in the area of creating jobs. If we talk about unemployment, we talk about people not having what to do and not people not having a job.
I don’t have a job but I have what I do. A job is the ‘9am to 5pm, you get paid at the end of the month, you get a wage and many more.’
What you are doing is that you have something that is solving a problem, bringing you revenue, putting food on your table and making you a responsible citizen.
The real thing about job is people having something in the hand, something they can do that sustains them.
For example, this morning I was thinking of the stress I would face to get an ATM card in the bank, it comes to mind to design a solution that would circumvent this stress. That’s simply a way of creating jobs.
Now to answer your question, technology will not just create jobs. It will create jobs for people to be able to come up with something from the base that would boost the economy.
What is your response to the belief that emerging technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a threat to humanity, most especially in the areas of employment?
AI does not pose challenge to employment rate because as some people are being fired, those with technology skills are being employed. This shows the importance of learning something new in the area of technology.
Interestingly, technology has reached a stage that you don’t need to be a gig programmer, all you need is to tap into it. For example, a lot of people are talking about cryptocurrencies, do you think everyone into it can design the ledger or encrypt the code? All they did is they tap into it.
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Do you think Nigerian youths are prepared for the IT revolution?
Yes. you know why? I learnt that Nigerians spend trillions on cryptocurrencies. They complain about the youths venturing into cybercrime, do you know it takes high level of intelligence to break into banks.
Let me ask you, don’t you think if they channel those skills to the right path, don’t you think people will be creating solutions if they know that all they need is to sit down and create solution to a problem and there’s a body or system that would buy it and they will make sure the solution comes to life? Do you think people will be doing Yahoo?
The youths are prepared. We just do not channel their intelligence to the right direction.
What are the policies or measures needed to increase youth participation in science and technology?
The government has to be willing to understand that technology is the new force and find a way to tap into it. This can be done by creating favourable policies. Recently, recall that cryptocurrency was banned in the country, while the South African government is creating Bitcoin ATMs. That’s the power of the government in creating policies.
Government must also be ready to use technology in order to understand that it is the new force. The first policy that will revolutionize the system is total implementation of the cashless policy.
In your view, is the academic system equipping the youths for an IT driven future ?
Don’t even talk about that. Right now I have 5 interns, all of them are graduates and they don’t know jack, waste of 4 years! There are some educating platforms on the internet, one is Linda.com, another is called Udemy, Thoughtplus, infact, linda.com has been bought by LinkedIn.
I learnt everything I know from these platforms, everything I know about technology including business.
On my hard drive I have about 700gb worth of video tutorials, the ones I downloaded over the internet, the ones I bought, for the past 6 months, I have spent about $2,000-$3,000 on purchasing tutorial materials.
If I see this is a new knowledge, I go online to search for someone who has done a comprehensive tutorial on it, by so doing I acquire what you cannot learn in school for four years.
I think Nigerian educational system should terminate at secondary school, the rest should be decided by you and me. This takes us to the labour force. Employment should not be base on certification, rather based on skills and competencies. Familiarism and nepotism should not be a requirement for employment.
You might be wondering, what about doctors, lawyers etc. There’s what we call ‘certification’ in I.T., ICAN is an example of certification. The government may create a policy that states anyone who passes an international certification test can be employed in any industry. However, you can pass such test without a tertiary education, but without a secondary education you can’t do the test. That shows you where the real drilling ends.
Let the government stop financing education, allow anyone interested, to learn any where they like. Increase the cost of education, let us have a situation where first semester will cost N500,000. This will stop people from rushing to institutions and make them gather knowledge through other means in order to get a certification in the field of their choice.
This will stop a lot of people from going to school except they wish to do so. It will also reduce the unnecessary spending by the government. Funds allocated to education can be saved in the reserve and used as education grant to those really interested in schooling. Which must be refunded within the next 15 years. With this, no one will tell such student to study. If you are paying about N700,000 per semester, do you think any lecturer will need to harass you before you come to class?
Simply put, our education systems should make basic and secondary school compulsory and well funded, make tertiary education optional and stop the huge amount of money allocated to it.
Also, make the labour force open for secondary school graduates who has the skills and are competent for the task. Take as example, auto mechanic, do you know that those who learn by the roadside without theories are usually better than graduates who studied the same course in schools?
All that is needed to help the roadside automotive technician is to spend about 6 months to learn the theoretical part with English and mathematics, he can then get a certification test which may not be necessarily written in English.
We have to create a system that works for everybody, not a system that states everybody must pass JAMB, pass Post UTME, get admitted, then come out hunting for jobs around.
We have the power of the internet, power of practicals and the power of everyone’s knowledge around you. It’s not necessary we go to school.
Could you identify some factors hindering Nigerian youths from developing interest in science and technology?
- Education, we are schooling not acquiring knowledge.
- Unconducive environment: we are in a hindering society where someone would innovate a solution and it got banned the next day. Take the GOkada ordeal as example, till date, bike men are still plying the BRT lane, yellow bus drivers are still causing traffic.
- Focus is placed only on theoretical learning: this affected me because I’m a practical person. It’s one of the reason I developed interest in the computer.
What’s your advice to Nigerian youths in terms of equipping themselves for the future?
- If you don’t want to run, stay but understand that there’s nothing here except you create something yourself and there’s a market for whatever you create.