BY BAMIDELE FAMOOFO
The African Development Bank and partners on Tuesday launched a new Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme.
The initiative, with investments totalling $618 million, will attract direct investments in more than 200 technology and creative start-ups and provide non-financial services to about 450 digital technology, small and medium enterprises. With a potential to generate $6.4 billion into the Nigeria’s economy, iDICE is expected to create 6 million new jobs for young Nigerians.
Speaking at the launch event in the capital Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo emphasised the importance of a coordinated approach to innovation across Africa. “Government must provide more support for start-ups and small businesses, and investors must provide more funding,” Osinbajo said.
The African Development Bank Group is the largest funder of iDICE, providing $170 million. The French government, through the Agence Française de Développement, will contribute €100 million ($116 million), and the Islamic Development Bank pending approval from its board is expected to provide $70 million. The Nigerian government, through its executing agency, the Bank of Industry, will provide $45 million in counterpart funding.
Other institutional and private sector investors are also expected to provide additional funding for the implementation of the strategic initiative.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina stressed the need to leverage the huge potential of iDICE for sustainable job creation and economic transformation. “We are retooling Nigeria to be more competitive in an increasingly digital world. We are creating hope for a new Nigeria, driven by the power of the youth.”
The African Development Bank expects the iDICE model to be rolled out in other regional member countries through the Bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank initiative, which will be designed to create a financial and non-financial services ecosystem to support start-ups run by young Africans, and to create jobs.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, said the digital technology and creative industries had enormous potential to create jobs and spur economic growth in Nigeria. “The iDICE programme…is designed to support young entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving these industries forward,” she said.
Through iDICE, around 175,000 young people, including university students, will gain direct access to technology to build creative skills, stimulate innovation, and help new businesses to flourish. iDICE will help consolidate Nigeria’s leadership position as Africa’s pre-eminent hub for young entrepreneurs and start-up investments. In 2022, African start-ups raised $5.4 billion, with Nigerian companies receiving the largest share at $1.2 billion.
iDICE will also enhance regulatory policy frameworks such as the 2022 Start-up Act, provide access to financing through the creation a DICE Fund, an independently managed venture capital fund; and mobilise over $217 million in investment capital. The fund will also provide technical resources to de-risk digital and creative companies at scale and sustainable manner.