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HomeTechNEC Endorses Take-Off Of $617m i-DICE Programme For Nigerians

NEC Endorses Take-Off Of $617m i-DICE Programme For Nigerians

as Shettima promises to leave legacy of prosperity, opportunity for Nigerians 

MARGARET CHIDERA 

ABUJA, Nigeria – National Economic Council (NEC) has endorsed the implementation of the $617.7 million Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) programme in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.  

At its 140th meeting held virtually on Thursday, the chairman of the Council, Vice President Kashim Shettima, declared the firm resolve of the renewed hope administration of President Bola Tinubu to leave a legacy of prosperity and opportunity for all Nigerians.

He told state governors to nominate persons to represent each geo-political zone at the zonal level and focal persons to lead the implementation of the programme in their respective states.

He assured that as the scheme becomes operational in the coming weeks, implementation across the country will be diligent, committed and forthright.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Sen. Shettima assured that the administration will not rest on its oars until the citizens begin to bask in the opportunities they were promised, noting that it is the reason why the government is prioritizing skill acquisition and job creation.

Senator Shettima specifically noted that prioritising whatever offers Nigerians a means to earn a living with dignity are part of President Tinubu’s eight-point agenda.

He said, “But two things are clear: one, we won’t ever regret paving the way for the acquisition of skills that meet the needs of the global markets; two, our actions today will shape the economic landscape of tomorrow, and so it’s incumbent upon us to ensure that we leave a legacy of prosperity and opportunity for all Nigerians.

“When we empower entrepreneurs and small business owners, we unlock the potential for innovation, job creation, and economic growth. By providing access to financing, training, and mentorship programs, we unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that lies within every Nigerian, catalysing a wave of economic prosperity that benefits us all. We cannot achieve this without inclusivity and equitable access to opportunities. This is the ladder we must offer to every disadvantaged citizen.”

The Vice President noted that the government has “moved beyond mere deliberations to the implementation phase” and it is actively pursuing its “short-term goals en route to achieving our medium-term and long-term strategies.

“My confidence in our ability to fix our nation stems from the unity of purpose this Council has demonstrated. We have rejected binary thinking, resisted divisions, and relegated self-interest in favor of a shared vision for progress,” he added.

The Vice President observed however that despite the interventions made so far to prevent natural disasters, “to combat crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, to alleviate the short-term inflationary impacts of our economic-saving decisions, to mitigate environmental damage, and to curb revenue loss”, the efforts would be useless to the citizens unless “job creation and skill development at every corner of the nation”, are prioritised.

Noting that it is not the best of times to be in office, Shettima implored the governors and other council members to remain constant in executing  initiatives that will help wriggle the citizens out of their present condition.

“This is a delicate period to occupy offices like ours. We cannot remind ourselves enough that we have come at a time that tests the depth of our leadership and demands our most rational wisdom to make a difference.

“Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we must remain consistent in implementing the initiatives that alleviate the suffering of our citizens and be accountable in doing so. We must also ensure that interventions we deploy are non-discriminatory and favour all stakeholders, with no part of our communities or nation left lagging,” he stated.

In his presentation on the i-DICE programme, the Executive Director in charge of SMES at the Bank of Industry, Mr Shekarau Omar said the i-DICE programme, a special intervention by government, aims to deliver on the promise by the Tinubu administration to create millions of jobs in the technology space.

Mr Omar explained that the programme is in support of government’s agenda to create more sustainable jobs, diversify the economy and equip digital and creative incubation hubs/innovation centers across the country.

He listed African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) among organisations that will fund the programme, giving a breakdown of how the funds will be sourced as follows: AfDB, $170million; IsDB, $70 million; AFD, $116 million;  Bank of Industry (BoI) on behalf of federal government of Nigeria (FGN), $45.50 million; Fund Manager (For Equity Fund only), $8.70 million, and private investors, $205 million.

On the impact of the programme, Mr Omar said 1,269,757 youths will be trained and certified in ICT skills, with at least 25,000 youths trained in each state of the federation and the FCT.

He noted that while at least 100,000 jobs will be created per state, about 5,581,231 indirect jobs will be created through i-DICE interventions nationwide.

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