The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a $600 million programme for young Nigerians in the technology and creative sectors.
In his keynote address at the launch of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, called on African governments and the private sector to do more to support the growth of innovation in the continent.
The programme is aimed at supporting young Nigerians ranging from ages 15-35 who are entrepreneurs and involved in early stages in creative, innovative and technology-enabled ventures.
“I think it is now imperative to commence a coordinated approach towards innovation on the continent, bringing together all stakeholders to coordinate efforts at scaling up investments and building programmes that provide the right enabling environment and produce talent pipelines that support the growth of innovation on the continent,” Prof Osinbajo said.
The Vice President assured that under i-DICE, the federal government has set up a machinery to effectively address constraints such as access to capital, and capacity limitation of Start-ups, even as he acknowledged that more needs to be done to scale up such programmes.
“The government must provide more support for startups and small businesses, and investors must provide more funding. This is why the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme is important.”
On behalf of the Nigerian government, the Vice President thanked the development partners for their collaboration.
Commending the efforts of the development partners, the Vice President noted that the programme’s design “supports innovation across very critical pillars including policy, infrastructure, access to finance and talent. These pillars have been identified as very critical to the growth and sustenance of innovation on the continent.”
Osinbajo disclosed that “the total fund is $618 million, out of which the AFDB provides $170million, the Agence Francaise de development $116m and the Islamic Development Bank will provide $70 million in co-financing.” There is also a Federal Government of Nigeria counterpart contribution of $45 million through the Bank of Industry loans for qualifying start-ups and another $271m is expected from private sector and institutional investors, he noted.
Similarly, Prof Osinbajo observed that the launch of the (i-DICE) Programme was a significant milestone by the Nigerian government in its continued efforts in harnessing the potential of its youth population and creating more jobs.
He said that beyond job creation, the programme is a government initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital tech and creative industries and especially targeted at job creation.
The Vice President commended the development partners for their support, and also thanked the AfDB President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, for his role in bringing the idea to fruition.
On his part, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina commended the Federal Government’s commitment to the actualisation of the initiative, particularly the leadership of the Vice President in creating the enabling environment for the development of start-ups, as well as position Nigeria as Africa’s leading digital technology centre.
“Today, I will thank you, my brother, the Vice President. You have been an amazing leader in our nation, you are a very focused and very determined person, as your time ends, may God continue to be with you and guide you in whatever lies ahead of you.
“i-DICE Programme is timely, strategic, and transformative as it will build the ecosystems to support more competitive entrepreneurs powered by digital technologies.
“That is why we like i-DICE: it is visionary, sees the future and prepares Nigeria for it. That future is here. Every aspect of life is being transformed digitally.” he said.