Lagos. May 31, 2013: The National ICT Incubation Programme tagged iDEA (Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator) is pushing a major drive to spin off 25 successful ICT businesses by 2015 under a broader goal to grow the local software development sector, the Ministry of Communication Technology, the key driver of the incubator scheme has said.
Omobola Johnson, the Minister of Communication Technology, says iDEA was set up to support Nigerian ICT Entrepreneurs to create successful businesses.
Under the scheme, the incubation programme will offer support to promising tech entrepreneurs through ICT incubation centres that will be established in a selected number of cities across Nigeria.
To walk the talk, the CommTech Minister says, “we are setting up a venture capital fund in conjunction with private equity investors to be solely focused on ICT businesses. Initial and final close of US$15m and US30m respectively with N500m/US$3.5m Seed Capital secured from NITDEVF.”
Johnson adds that the remaining fund will be sourced through private equity under which a fund manager has been selected to manage the Fund and disbursements will commence April 2013.
The Minister who recently who recently launched the iDEA Center in April this year in Lagos says the second centre will be launched soon in Calabar.
She expressed appreciation to the Incubation Committee members who assisted in defining the Incubation framework and blueprint and the Implementation Committee who defined the implementation plan and the governance structure.
Under the plan, the Centres will be established and funded by government at the initial stage through the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDEVF), they will subsequently be funded and managed independent of government through iDEA under the guidance and supervision of the Governing Council which was inaugurated earlier in February, this year.
The primary goal of the iDEA Incubation Centre is to create 25 successful ICT businesses by 2015 and catalyse the ICT Industry by helping Nigerian ICT Entrepreneurs create successful businesses, the Minister adds.
The Centres will also support the interactions between software entrepreneurs/start-ups and their partners, thus developing indigenous skills and capabilities, Omobola says adding that they will also act as hubs of innovation that support the development and maturity of a local software economy.
The Ministry hopes that the IDEA Centres will provide incubates business and technical training, access to software development tools at no cost, use of facilities and computing resources for development purposes, mentoring, assistance with marketing and promotion and access to finance.
“Our IT Incubation Centre journey started in 2011 when we constituted an IT Incubation Committee comprising of mostly private sector and government constituted to develop Incubation operational blueprint. – In February, we inaugurated the Governing Board of the programme (iDEA), comprising of industry players and experts with Mr. Dotun Sulaiman as the Chairman. This is a right direction for us to take to ensure sustainability of this programme”, Johnson adds.
According to the CommTech Ministry, the Incubation programme is an initiative of the Ministry that started since the inception of the Ministry in 2011 and was midwifed in collaboration with National Information Technology Development Agency and the private sector.
Akpan, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry says that there are rigorous planning, thinking-through and extensive collaborations both locally and overseas that have been infused into the Incubation program to ensure that the right model that can deliver same value as other international incubation centres is launched.
According to him, “the launch marks the beginning of a new era in the history of our software industry- a new dawn of hope for our software entrepreneurs and start-ups to grow their creative ideas to fruition through the iDEA programme. Through the active participation of the private sector in this programme, it is our firm believe that this will not only ensure sustainability of the centre but also bring to bear access to a wide range of expertise from both local and global ICT companies that can shape the outcome of the products from these centres.’’
In his comments, Cleopas Angaye, the Director-General of NITDA, commended the Minister for the Incubation center initiative which he stressed will create a viable vibrant local software industry in the country.
Also, Adedotun Suleiman, the Chairman, Governing Board of iDEA, says the iDEA programme will provide technical and financial assistance to software developers and start-ups to grow and bring their ideas to fruition.