Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo this week in Abuja launched the $600 million Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (I-DICE) programme for young Nigerians in the technology and creative sectors to strengthen the country’s tech-innovation sector with funding and policy.
The $618 million i-DICE deal is supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with $170m, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) with N70m, the Agence Française de Développement with $116m and a counterpart contribution of $45 million by Nigeria’s government through the Bank of Industry loans for qualifying startups.
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According to the AfDB, “i-DICE is a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Program to promote investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Creative Industries, as part of efforts to build back better, greener, and more inclusively, in support of the government’s agenda to create more and sustainable jobs during and post COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is spearheaded by the Advisory Council for Technology and Creativity, set up in 2018 under the aegis of the Nigerian Industrial and Competitiveness Advisory Council, to provide solutions to several technology and creativity challenges in the country. The program has strong country ownership and participation, including approval at the level of the Presidency and is anchored by the Office of the Vice President.”
The new deal will support 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,” said Osinbajo at the presidential launch of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme.
Osinbajo who urged African governments and the private sector to support startup innovation on the continent said “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.”
The Vice President said i-DICE will offer access to capital and capacity limitation of startups even as he commended AfDB and other development partners.
The i-DICE will create the“enabling environment for the development of startups as well as position Nigeria as Africa’s leading digital technology centre,” said President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina.
The Nigerian government remains committed to growth of technology and innovation as well as the development of young talented Nigerians, Osinbajo said.
His words: “As a government, we have consistently provided support to the innovation ecosystem over the last eight years. In 2018, we established the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group. The Advisory Group brings together stakeholders in the technology and creative industries, to contribute directly to policy formulation, articulation and the design of the technology and creative sectors of our economy.”
“The Group has influenced various government policies for the growth of the economy. For instance, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, working with NITDA has established a Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, the Ministry has also led the coordination of our partnership with Microsoft to increase Nigeria’s technology talent pipeline by training 5 million Nigerians in various technology skills.”