Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Tuesday 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 the growth of innovation in the continent.
Speaking at the presidential launch of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme held at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja, Osinbajo said the programme would support young Nigerians ranging from ages 15 to 35 years 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.
“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 said.
Commending the efforts of the development partners, the Vice President said the programme 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.
“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.” Another $271m is expected from private sector and institutional investors,” he said.
He said 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.
“The programme is a government initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital tech and creative industries and especially targeted at job creation,” he said.
Speaking about the Buhari administration’s efforts in supporting the growth in the tech and innovation sectors, Osinbajo said: “As a government, we have consistently provided support to the innovation ecosystem over the last 8 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.”