Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday launched a $618 million programme for young Nigerians in the technology and creative sectors.
He urged governments across Africa and the private sector to render more support for the growth of innovation in the continent.
Osinbajo spoke at the presidential launch of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) programme held at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja.
i-DICE, which is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital technology and creative industries to create jobs, especially for young people, is supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) with the Bank of Industry (BoI) designated as executing agency.
A statement yesterday in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the programme would support young Nigerians, ranging from ages 15 to 35 who are entrepreneurs and involved in early stages in creative, innovative and technology-enabled ventures.
“I think it is now imperative to begin 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 at the event.
Under i-DICE, constraints, such as access to capital, and capacity limitation of start-ups would be effectively addressed.
But the Vice President said more still needs to be done to scale up such programmes.
He 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.”
i-DICE is supported by funding from the AfDB -$170 million; the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) – N70 million and the Agence Française de Développement – $116 million.
There is also Federal Government of Nigeria’s counterpart contribution of $45 million through the BoI loans for qualifying start-ups.
On behalf of the Nigerian government, Osinbajo thanked the development partners for their collaboration.
Lauding 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”.
He explained that “the total fund is $618 million, out of which the AfDB provides $170 million, the Agence Francaise de Development $116 million, and the Islamic Development Bank will provide $70 million in co-financing”.
Another $271 million is expected from the private sector and institutional investors, he said.
Also, President of Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said it is time to create youth-based wealth that will support a more inclusive Nigerian economy.
Adesina spoke at the presidential inauguration of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) programme yesterday in Abuja.
The AfDB president said the initiative was timely, strategic, and transformative and would build the ecosystems to support more competitive entrepreneurs powered by digital technologies.
“Yes, we gather to inaugurate the initiative, but what we are really inaugurating is more than it. We are inaugurating hope for the youth.
“We are inaugurating platforms that will enhance the ability and capacity of Nigeria’s youth to thrive. We are inaugurating the creation of millions of jobs.
“We are retooling Nigeria to compete more in an increasingly digital world. We are creating hope for a new Nigeria, driven by the power of the youth,” he said.
The AfDB president noted that what Nigeria does with its youthful population would determine its future.
“It is time to create youth-based wealth for Nigeria. Youth-based wealth will rapidly expand the creation of jobs, expand the fiscal space with new sources of taxes, and support a more inclusive Nigerian economy, now and well into the future.
“That is why, shortly after I was elected AfDB president, we inaugurated the Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy.
“We expect that the programme will create 25 million new jobs by 2026, focusing on practical and high-impact solutions,” he said.
Adesina said the future is here, and every aspect of life is digitally transformed.
When you think digital, think global, he said.
The AfDB president said based on estimates, the digital global health size of Africa would expand from $217 billion in 2022 to more than $1 trillion by 2031, an incredible growth.
“The size of Africa’s digital economy will rise from $115 billion today to $712 billion by 2050.
“And most of this growth is already driven by four countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt,” he said.
Adesina said several factors, including the rapid growth in the youth population, drove the expansion of the digital economy.
The AfDB president said these digital trends hold great promise to help create massive jobs.
“For example, estimates by Endeavor (2022) show that expanding digital infrastructure by 10 per cent will lead to a 2.5 per cent annual growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Africa.
“Furthermore, expanding access to the internet in Africa, from the current 33 per cent to 75 per cent, can help create 44 million jobs, including 3 million jobs in online services by 2025,” he said.
The continental bank’s boss said Nigeria was already witnessing the power of digital technologies, tools, and platforms.
According to him, Nigeria currently has five out of the 11 digital companies that have reached the status of unicorn with market valuation of one billion dollars.
He listed the companies to include Jumia, Interswitch, Opay, Flutterwave and Andela, mainly in fintech.
Adesina said Nigeria’s poor and fragmented cargo transport system was gradually transforming, thanks to Kobo 360, a digital logistics platform.
He noted that despite its growth, the country had not fully tapped into and unleashed the power of its creative industry.
“The i-DICE programme will help to fill some of these critical gaps. By supporting enterprise and skills development, access to demand-driven digital and creative skills, entrepreneurship skills, ICT enabled infrastructure and expanding access to finance,” Adesina said.
The AfDB boss said the bank was pleased to partner the Federal Government of Nigeria on the $618 million i-DICE programme.
According to him, AfDB is providing $170 million in financing to the programme.
“I am delighted that we have been able to mobilise additional co-financing of $217 million towards the programme.
“I wish to thank our partners, the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), which is providing $100 million, and the Islamic Development Bank, which is providing $70 million.
“I also thank the Bank of Industry and the Federal Government of Nigeria for providing $45 million in counterpart funding.
“Through the independent fund managers for i-DICE, the programme will raise an additional capital of between 131 million dollars and 262 million dollars,” he said.
Reiterating some of the bank’s initiatives, Adesina said it would soon roll out Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks.