Nigeria, Japan To Deepen Bilateral Relations

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…As NITDA, JICA partner on iHatch

L-R: The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi and the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi during the ceremony in Abuja.

Nigeria and Japan have firmed up their bilateral relations to relying on each other’s expertise to deploy information technology (IT) to tackle Nigeria’s developmental challenges.

The director-general of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, made this known during the opening ceremony of the iHatch Start-up Incubation programme, in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Abdullahi said the iHatch programme jointly organised by the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), a subsidiary of NITDA, and JICA, is expected to, among other things, aid learning to know what Japan is doing differently in transforming its digital economy, borrow some ideas as well as share experiences to domesticate the initiatives to suit the Nigerian digital economy needs.

The DG congratulated the eight successful startups who were selected from about 5000 applicants that sought to participate in the programme. He, however, advised them to see the platform as a golden opportunity to hatch their ideas.

“Innovation is the process of taking your ideas from inception to impact. Just having an idea means nothing until you can get someone to pay you for that idea. So, this programme is designed to help you move that idea from inception up to impact,” he explained.

He noted that the target at the end of the project is to incubate, mould and launch excellent ideas into products or services that will positively turn things around in the country, especially, in critical areas of the economy and help humanity generally. The NITDA boss expressed optimism that the partnership will be mutually beneficial to both countries.

Earlier, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi and other dignitaries from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) were unanimous that the plan is to enhance the Nigerian start-up ecosystem.

He emphasised that one of the features of the collaboration is not only to provide aid or financial support but to most importantly provide the required expertise, as well as to transfer Japanese corporate ethics to project success.

“iHatch will support Nigerian techpreneurs by redefining their business models through a series of mentoring, lectures and boot camps, culminating in the establishment of sustainable and capable business models.”

Some of the successful startups who were elated for being a part of the programme expressed confidence that their solution-driven ideas which got selected and enlisted among the approved eight would translate to bringing their ingenuity and creativity to bear.

They appreciated the Federal Government through NITDA and NCAIR for the chance to partake in nation-building and channel their respective talents into a productive course.

NITDA hopes that the programme will inspire Nigerian youths to brush up on their business ideas and seize the opportunity to empower themselves and contribute to creating a better future for Nigeria as the success would be added to the list of achievements in Nigeria-Japan relations.

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