Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, launched a $600 million programme for young Nigerians in the technology and creative sectors with a call on African governments and the private sector to do more to support growth of innovation in Africa.
He spoke at the official unveiling of Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme in Abuja.
The programme is to support young Nigerians, aged 15 to 35, and who are entrepreneurs 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,” Osinbajo said in his keynote address.
Under i-DICE, constraints such as access to capital and capacity limitation of startups, would be effectively addressed.
But according to him, 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,” he added.
The initiative is supported by funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) – $170 million; Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) – N70 million and Agence Française de Développement’s–$116 million. There is also Federal Government’s counterpart contribution of $45 million through the Bank of Industry (BOI) loans for qualifying startups.
Osinbajo thanked the development partners for their collaboration.
Commending their efforts, 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.”
He disclosed that the total fund is $618 million.
Another $271 million is expected from private sector and institutional investors, Osinbajo said.
Similarly, he observed that the launch was a significant milestone by the Nigerian government in its continued efforts in harnessing the potential of its youth population and creating more jobs.
Beyond job creation, “the programme is a government initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital tech and creative industries, specially targeted at job creation,” he added.
On his part, AfDB President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, commended the Federal Government’s commitment to actualisation of the initiative, particularly the leadership of the Vice President in creating “the enabling environment for the development of startups, as well as positioning Nigeria as Africa’s leading digital technology centre.”