Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN on Tuesday launched a $600 million programme for young Nigerians in the technology and creative sectors.
Osinbajo spoke at the State House, Abuja at the presidential launch of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) Programme which will support young Nigerians ranging from ages 15 to 35 who are entrepreneurs and involved in early stages in creative, innovative and technology-enabled ventures.
Delivering a keynote address at the event, the Vice President called on African governments and the private sector to do more to support innovation on the continent. “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”.
Under i-DICE, constraints such as access to capital, and capacity limitation of Start-ups would be effectively addressed. But according to the vice president, 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.”
i-DICE is supported by funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB)-$170m, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)-N70m and the Agence Française de Développement-$116m. There is also Federal Government of Nigeria counterpart contribution of $45 million through the Bank of Industry loans for qualifying start-ups.
He 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 adding that another $271m is expected from private sector and institutional investors.
Osinbajo thanked the development partners for their collaboration, noting 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.”
Also speaking, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina commended the Federal Government’s commitment to the actualization of the initiative, particularly the leadership of the VP 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” he said.