Nigeria’s IT implementing agency, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says it wants to convert information and communication technology (ICT) to the cash cow of the economy.
Dr Vincent Olatunji, Acting Director General of NITDA said this when he declared open the third edition of the StartUP Friday, an initiative of the IT agency, Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) in Abuja.
The NITDA acting chief represented by Dr Femi Adeluy, NITDA’s Chief Scientific Officer says that the current administration is focusing on ICT innovation.
“The oil prices are not so much in our favor and we want to convert ICT to the cash cow of the economy. So this event is a very good opportunity for us to make that happen. This year, we are going to establish a number of innovation hubs because the government sees that ICT innovation can help us to create jobs, generate revenue”, Olatunji says.
Ife Adebayo, Special Assistant to the Vice President on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, observed that the Startup Friday should be replicated across other states of the country, as it would offer Nigerians with great ideas opportunity to show such ideas to the right investors.
Yele Okeremi, Managing Director of Precise Financial Systems, who also spoke at the event, charged the startups to appreciate the seed for greatness in them and pursue their goals with persistently, which often leads to success.
Bunmi Okunowo, National Coordinator of OIIE, on his part stated that StartUP Friday is an event where nascent companies, irrespective of the sector and solution offerings, gather to connect, share and learn from the CEOs of some of the established companies, as well as VCs and other stakeholders.
According to him, StartUP Friday “is an avenue for “startup founders and intending founders to network and access resources.” The platform also offer opportunity to attendees to connect with successful CEOs, investors and business owners that would be difficult to access ordinarily.
“Leveraging on the convening power of government, we bring these categories of people together within the reach of our startup founders. They are part of the ecosystem, and we want them to share their experience, to network with people and find ways that they can help them. Give them access to resources”, he adds.
According to Okunowo, “in the past editions, StartUP Friday had hosted founders of Jobberman, Printivo and Hotels.ng, and these CEOs have shared the stories of how they established their companies. They had told the audience about the road they traveled before overcoming their challenges and how they raised their first big capital.”
“If we are all successful then we are doing great. With that success, comes a story to tell. There will be a time when a startup founder sits in front of investors and pitch to make them believe that the business is worth investing in. The best way to learn is to listen, learn and follow the principles of those who have walked that path before”, Okunowo adds.
While observing that resources do not only mean money, National Coordinator of OIIE says that with StartUP Friday, the office would want to make the conversation stronger, deeper and more impacting as it partners with corporate bodies such as Intel and Microsoft that would bring additional value to the startup firms.
“We recently signed an agreement with Intel to tap into their huge network of resources that can significantly benefit Nigerian startups who are using technology to drive their businesses. With this partnership, we are creating the bridge for startups and hub operators to leverage on to create more value for the ecosystem”, he said.
He further stated that for instance, startup with device-oriented solution would get access to engage Intel through the partnership to drive device production at a cheaper rate, stressing that the partnership would foster device penetration and use of new and innovative solutions that would promote inclusive development in undeserved and un-served areas.
Other partners include eLPee Consults, Ripple VC, DraperDarkFlow and SpeedUPAfrica whose managing partner, Toro Orero, has indicated interest to collaborate with OIIE with the objective of exporting StartUP Friday to Ghana in July, as well as sponsor 50 Nigerian startups to the event, Okunowo adds.