The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said it is harnessing the innovative talent of the nation’s young people and providing them with the necessary support to build the required digital skills and viable tech businesses to significantly contribute to job creation and economic prosperity for Nigeria through the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) Scheme.
The director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi officially flagged off the TIES Scheme during a hybrid session at the Venture Park Hub in Abuja while other locations like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Katsina, Kano and Enugu joined virtually.
While applauding the startups’ stride towards providing solutions to identified gaps in society, he gave a brief narrative of the impact of the startup community on the nation’s economy in the last two years.
“Nigeria’s flourishing startup ecosystem has continued to attract global attention as evidenced by a total investment of $2.9 billion between 2021 and 2022 as reported by Africa: The Big Deal – the highest raised by any startup ecosystem in Africa. Additionally, Nigeria is home to 5 [of the 7] unicorn startups in Africa. These and other significant milestones point to the enormous potential of the ecosystem in contributing to creating wealth and economic growth for Nigeria.’.
Additionally, Abdullahi noted that President Buhari’s administration had recently enacted the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) aimed at, among others, providing legal and institutional frameworks for the development of startups; providing an enabling environment for the establishment and operation of startups; providing opportunities for the development and growth of tech-related talents and to position Nigeria’s startup ecosystem as the leading digital technology centre in Africa.
He affirmed that the NSA was the outcome of the collaborative efforts of the ecosystem and the Presidency – as spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the leadership of the minister, Prof. Isa Pantami – as well as a clear pointer to the government’s commitment to developing a more thriving tech ecosystem for the development of Nigeria’s digital economy into a knowledge-based and IT-driven one.
He further disclosed how NITDA had conceptualised and designed the TIES Scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a capacity-building programme targeted at addressing the digital skills gaps through training for hub managers, provision of incubation work to ensure massive creation of entrepreneurs and jobs within the ecosystem for young Nigerians.
“As an agency, we noticed that most of the young talented people who have ideas lack mentorship.” He added that “innovative solutions are needed to tackle the problems in the country which NITDA is helping by creating the avenue that would provide a balance between the innovators and the markets,” he added.
He was optimistic that the TIES Scheme would accelerate the prosperity of the country while enabling NITDA on delivering the target of achieving 95 per cent digital literacy by the year 2030.
The chairman of the TIES committee, and director of Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions (ITIS) NITDA, Dr. Abdullahi Gambo expressed his optimism about the success of the programme through the support of the industry partners. He said that NITDA is expecting the partners to help achieve the target number of trainers within the stipulated time frame through the train-the-trainer method.
Earlier in his remarks, the general manager of Venture Park Hub, Mr. Jayeola Okuazun expressed his gratitude to the Federal Government for providing and bridging the gap for young, talented entrepreneurs.
“Our mission is very clear. We are here to build the future of Africa and, to be able to do that, there is a need for collaboration between the Federal Government and the various hubs that would enhance the development of the nation”.
Other tech partners include Quantum Business, Blue Saphire Hub, Venture Park, Young Innovators and Cherish Enterprise Institute.
Later, Okuazun took the NITDA team on a tour of the facility, showcasing the various opportunities available to young digital natives.