Kaunas’ companies reinforced by ICT specialists from Nigeria
Photo: “Digital Explorers”.
Hafiz Adewuyi and Jemima Abu are two of the fifteen Nigerians participating in Digital Explorers program, who are coming to work in Lithuania for a year in the information and communication technology (ICT) companies. Hafiz, who has worked for TransUnion in Kaunas for a couple of months now, and Jemima, who will soon be joining TeleSoftas’s team in Kaunas, agreed to share their impressions and expectations about the city new to them. Both admitted to having never heard not only about Kaunas but Lithuania as well.
Launched this fall, the Digital Explorers program aims to connect Lithuania and Nigeria – Africa’s largest market – for ICT cooperation. Out of 1400 Nigerian specialists, 15 were selected to work for a year in seven ICT companies in Lithuania, which are part of the program: TeleSoftas, Syno International, Beyond Analysis, Ruptela, NRD Systems, TransUnion and iTo.
The program is implemented by Versli Lietuva, African Research and Consulting Center Afriko, Nigerian Technology Park Ventures Platform, programming academy CodeAcademy and Diversity Development Group of Mobility Policy Experts. The project is funded by the European Union through the Mobility Partnership Facility and under contract with ICMPD.
Digital Explorers provide young Nigerian ICT professionals with a real opportunity to test themselves in an international environment, work on highly complex projects and gain valuable experience in a short period of time, while Lithuanian companies get a chance to discover emerging African markets and attract young and motivated ICT professionals.
Plans include parks, hot air balloons, and cold beetroot soup
“When I heard that I was invited to participate in the program, I was very pleased: not only because it will be the first such long journey to a completely unfamiliar country for me where I will live completely on my own for the first time, but also because I got the chance to work in an international company with hundreds of employees, where I will no doubt have the opportunity to improve my skills and learn a lot.”
Jemima confesses that it was only after encountering Digital Explorers that she first heard about Lithuania and then started reading and looking for information to at least try and imagine the distant land, where she will have to stay for a year.
“What do I hope to experience in Kaunas? The more of everything! Already, I have a list of things to do and visit: from museums, parks to city tours. I will definitely try hot air balloon flight and of course, will taste your pink soup! What frightens me? I worry that I might not be able to communicate easily and I am not sure if I will be able to find the foods that I am used to, and, of course – my hair! If you know a gifted hairstylist who knows how to deal with hair, like mine, let me know!” A guest from Nigeria, who will soon come to Kaunas, laughs.
Kaunas charmed with its safety and a sense of freedom
Hafiz Adewuyi, a senior engineer at TransUnion Company in Kaunas, completed his degree in Electronics Engineering at the University of Lagos and worked as a software engineer for various companies in the Nigerian financial industry for 7 years.
The guest, who has spent several months in Kaunas, has first authentic impressions and says that the city welcomed him warmly and hospitably.
Photo: Hafiz from “Digital Explorers”.
“As soon as I learned that I was going to Lithuania for a year, I was so happy that the very same minute I boasted about that to my family and friends. It was a dream come true: the opportunity to work and live in a whole new country whose public infrastructure far outstrips what we have in Nigeria. On arrival, I was greeted by the warm and immediate attention of the company I work for: I have worked for several multinational companies in my home country, but now I can say that I have never experienced such a convincing attitude of an employer towards an employee and a belief that my professional success directly contributes to the overall success of the company.”
Hafiz confesses that his work in Kaunas has greatly enhanced his quality of life, naming cleanliness in the city and its numerous parks and greenery as some of the daily benefits.
Of course, small daily challenges remain: Hafiz says he hasn’t evaluated the fact that English alone may not always be sufficient for communication, and sometimes even the simplest shopping at the supermarket can become a challenge when he cannot understand the product labels.
“There’s another minus: I can’t stand the heavy jackets that I have to put on every time I go outside. After all, I have spent my entire life in the land where all the clothes I wear inside are suitable for the outside as well,” Hafiz laughs.
When asked what he would advise and recommend to his family or friends coming to Kaunas, Hafiz doesn’t hesitate, “First of all, if you come here in winter, bring a warm jacket, sweater, thick socks, woolen scarves, and gloves! And most importantly: explore, take walks, get to know your surroundings, go to the city center at any time of the day, without fear of being attacked or discriminated against. There are so many restaurants of different cuisines of the world and the prices are lower than in our country. Every day in Kaunas is a new adventure!”