Nigeria Leads Africa In Digital Skill, Startup Ecosystem – Osinbajo

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Nigeria is leading other African countries in the digital skill and startup ecosystem, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
He made the assertion at the startup and developer event organised by Google, with the theme ‘The African start-up ecosystem opportunity’, yesterday.
He said according to Startup Genome report, Lagos is the most valuable startup ecosystem on the continent, having 400 to 700 active startups valued at over $2b with Fintech being the most prominent in the Lagos technology startups ecosystem. Other industries are emerging with startups like Flying Doctors, 54gene, Helium Health and Life Bank blazing the trail in the healthcare sector and Thrive Agric, Afex Commodities, and Probity Farms making waves in the agriculture and commodities exchange space, he added.

He averred that the citing of the highly valued Google Developer Space in Lagos, the first in Africa, explained the position of Nigeria as a leader in the digital skills and startup ecosystem in Africa, saying the investments attracted by our startups confirmed the position.

“Recently, Flutterwave announced new funding of $170m, and Stripe acquired Paystack for more than $200m. Other Nigerian technology companies like Interswitch have raised funding in hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

Osinbajo represented by the director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, said startup ecosystem is one of the vital tools in finding solutions to Africa’s various challenges, pointing out that the challenges would determine if the continent’s future as the next frontier for economic opportunities would fully be realised.

He explained that the African startup ecosystem opportunity is hinged on two key factors, which are anchored on the 4th industrial revolution and driven primarily by digital technologies.

 “The first factor is innovation capacity, and the second one is entrepreneurial capacity. Both capacities depend on four key indicators, human capital, infrastructure, funding and demand. Human capital being the first indicator means that African startups must realise that they are only as strong as the value of the human resources they have. Therefore, startups like Andela, Wootlab Innovations and Decagon are vital as they are involved in producing skilled talent,” he stated.

Osinbajo said the Federal Government was working with the relevant stakeholders in the public and private sector to ensure that startups receive every support they require to take their ideas from inception to impact, stating government  instituted the Visa on Arrival Policy which allows any person outside ECOWAS to get a visa on arrival in Nigeria as part of our Ease of Doing Business Reforms, adding the policy meant all African startups and entrepreneurs seeking to expand their business into Nigeria would have a more straightforward process.

“We are also re-convening the Technology and Creativity Advisory Council, made up of public and private sector stakeholders in the ecosystem to advise government on policies and programs to support the ecosystem. Through the work of this council, we are currently engaging with the African Development Bank to set up a $500 million innovation fund, which would provide support for the ecosystem across four pillars which include infrastructure support, finance, skills development and technical assistance.

“In 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for Digital Nigeria as a sustainable roadmap to accelerate the development of the digital economy in Nigeria. The policy is designed to catalyse the digital ecosystem development in Nigeria and deepen innovation quality to promote innovation-driven enterprises that target the global market,” he pointed out.

He further said government had many initiatives to support the ecosystem through various agencies, adding NITDA had been at the forefront of supporting Nigeria’s digital innovation ecosystem in this regard.

“Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc worldwide, NITDA engaged the ecosystem to devise strategies to aid business continuity for startups and developed schemes to support and sustain the ecosystem.
“The engagement led to initiatives such as Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support (TIES) Scheme, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center etc, as sustainable programmes to continuously up-skill and supports the startup ecosystem,” he added.

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